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Episode Fifty Six

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Monstrous Agonies E56S02 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Fifty Six.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through pop music, a voice saying “-it won't work-”, classical music, and a voice saying “-you put it up in your own toilet-” before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-go back, back, back!” calls the grouse across the moor.

It's coming up on two o'clock here on the Nightfolk Network, and time for our weekly advice segment. Our first letter tonight asks how to face one's fears.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

Did you know that moose can swim underwater? They can stay down there for almost a minute at a time to eat aquatic plants. Looking at them you wouldn't think they could do that but there you go.

I promise this is relevant.

A few months ago my family went on a holiday to the U.S. We're a water-dwelling genus so a trip that far is a real event. But we got there in one piece and headed off on our American adventure.

At some point, we were north somewhere, up a river taking in nature, when my wee sibling swims off out of sight. None of us realised until they came zooming back at top speed scared out of their mind. It took a good ten minutes to get a coherent word out of them.

It turned out that when they went exploring they saw a moose. And the moose saw them. And charged them. Straight into the water, even diving down after them. The moose didn't catch them of course – no land mammal can beat us in the water – but they've been absolutely terrified of moose ever since.

We're back home now, a long way from even deer, let alone moose, but they won't go anywhere, too afraid one's going to chase them again. They won't even meet up with friends if it means going outside our home water system.

I'm worried. I know it sounds like such a silly thing but it's really hurting them. How can I help them get past this?

The Presenter (as themselves)

Oh, your poor sibling. Moose are not to be messed with. Or... moosed with. Sorry.

You're doing a very good job already at preparing the ground to help them past this lingering fear. In particular, you're doing just the right thing by not dismissing this fear as irrational or silly. It was a very upsetting, frightening experience, and that fear is real, even if the threat is not.

There are no wild moose in the UK or Ireland. Our largest breed of deer is the red deer – smaller by an order magnitude. I mean, moose are massive. [laughing] Moosive! Uh-- I'm sorry. I'm sorry. [clears throat]

The point is, while red deer can swim well enough to get across a river or suchlike, they do not dive. Your sibling knows that they aren't in danger of moose in this part of the world. But it might help to have some more tangible facts to hold onto when that anxiety starts to rear its head. Or... it's antlers. [laughs] I'm sorry. [clears throat]

You might also try to help them change the way they talk about what happened to them. They weren't attacked by a moose while they were swimming. They swam off to explore a new place all by themselves, and they saw a huge moose, but they managed to get away and swim all the way home, too fast for the moose to catch them.

Right now, they're telling themselves a story about how afraid they were and how much danger they were in. But you can help them tell a new story, just as true, where they were quick and brave and clever.

Practically speaking, they need to get back out there – but not all at once. Take things step by step. Help them come up with a plan for tackling these fears by setting goals like, “swimming outside the home system,” or, “going to a friend's house for lunch”. You can also help them use mindfulness techniques or breathing exercises to help calm themselves down if they do get frightened.

It will take time, but with your support and encouragement, I'm sure they'll be able to move past this. To moose past this. [laughing] Sorry, I'm sorry, I'm done. That one wasn't even very good.

[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]

The Presenter

Caught up in a cross-species war that wasn't your fault? Struggling to reclaim your garden from a hoard of feral pixies? Or just looking for love in all the wrong places? If your Ear Worm is giving you a headache, we can help. Ear Worm Removals: proud sponsors of the Nightfolk Network.

[End background music.]

The Presenter

Our second letter tonight is from a listener finding it difficult to express themselves.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

Not to sound too much like a grumpy old codger, all “back in my day” et cetera, but you know what? They don’t make boats like they used to! They used to be these nice things of wood and painted in tar, big billowing canvas sails and the-- the sharp tang of paint. All easy to digest, might I add.

But these days they make them out of all sorts of awful things – steel, fibreglass, and these new-fangled materials that are not good for a growing kraken’s diet! Or a rather thoroughly mature kraken, for that matter.

This blatant disregard for kraken well-being is not to be borne. I tried flinging the boats around, showing my disapproval, but all I got was oil in my water – gallons of the stuff, what on earth do they need it all for?!

Some of them even tried to shoot me. Me! In my own home! Truly, this new wave of sailors is far more nefarious than the old days where I could just neatly remove a harpoon and get on with my day.

These newer boats are running amok with my diet. My tummy hurts! Between that and being kept up all night by people drilling into the sea floor, I’m even crankier than ever. And I was never a particularly tranquil creature to begin with.

Clearly my usual means of communicating my displeasure are not working. But there's only so much a tentacle can flail! How do I make my point more clearly?

The Presenter (as themselves)

I think you've fallen into a pretty common pitfall here, listener. You are reacting to the situation as laid out by the people you're trying to protest against, letting them call the shots. Instead, try taking a step back and thinking through what it is you're trying to accomplish and how you might best achieve that goal.

Smashing up ships and flailing your tentacles might feel good in the moment, but it isn't likely to lead to the kind of change you're hoping to inspire. For that, you need to organise.

First, you need a clear goal. As an individual, you might have several fronts you'd like to work on – ship-building materials, sea floor drilling, noise pollution. But you can't protest all of these at once.

Think of the National Association for Liminal Liberty. They have the general remit of campaigning for creatures' rights across several fronts. But their protests and actions are focused on one issue at a time – their recent marches and demonstrations for fair housing legislation, for example.

Pick a cause – the more specific the better. Then, decide what action you want to see happen as a result of your protest. What do you want, and when do you want it? And who, exactly, is responsible? You can’t hold someone accountable if you don’t know who they are. And they can't meet your demands if they don't know what they are.

You also need to have a long, honest think about what your resources are. You have your own personal resources – time, energy, tentacles. Are there others whom you could ask for support, who are also effected by these issues? How might the media be able to help your cause? Are there organisations doing similar work with whom you could ally yourself?

Finally, you can start thinking about what kind of actions might be effective. It's tempting to go for the big, dramatic action first – capsizing boats, smashing equipment, rising from the deep in a maelstrom of ink and fury. But as you've found, that approach leaves you with nowhere to go if your demands aren't met.

Start small – write some letters, or arrange a meeting with a representative of the drilling rigs you're targeting, for example. If they refuse to meet your demands, you can escalate as necessary. Good luck, listener.

[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]

The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network. Broadcasting all the time, for all time.

[End background music.]

The Presenter

That's all we have time for on this week's advice segment. But be sure to tune in next week for a double length edition for a very worthy cause. For the first time in several decades, we're going to be hosting a live call-in. I'll be fielding your questions live on air.

Next tonight, though, we're digging through the archives with a special interview with Vincent Price, first broadcast all the way back in 2002...

[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-ooh!-”, a voice saying “-let's be off-”, a voice saying “-incontrovertibly Welsh-” and a voice speaking Irish before fading out.

Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]

H.R. Owen

Episode Fifty Six of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.

Tonight's first letter was submitted by Art, the second was submitted by Esther, and this week's advert came from an anonymous submitter. Thanks, friends!

Submissions are now closed for letters and prompts, but see the show notes for details on sending in your advert ideas.

Hello and thank you to our most recent supporter on Patreon, C.R.! Join them at or make a one-off donation at You can also show your support by sharing with your friends and familiars, and following us on Tumblr, @MonstrousAgonies, and on Twitter, @Monstrous_Pod.

This podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The theme tune is Dakota by Unheard Music Concepts.

Thanks for listening, and remember – the real monsters are the friends we made on the way.

[Fade to silence.]


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