Episode Fifty Three
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Monstrous Agonies E53S02 Transcript
[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]
Monstrous Agonies: Episode Fifty Three.
[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through classical music, a voice saying “-nearing the worst-”, a voice saying “-significantly more earworms-”, pop music, a voice saying, “-I think it's really brutal-” and more pop music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]
-horseradish, but more so.
You're listening to the Nightfolk Network, where we're about to start our weekly advice segment.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
131.3FM – the voice of liminal Britain.
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Our first letter tonight is from a listener whose privacy is under attack.
The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)
Behold: the terror of the west! The deathless scourge! He who stalks by night, forsaken by all that is holy, he whose footsteps herald the endless darkness, whose breath carries the stench of death! Also known as... Stephen!
Yeah, they uh... They leave that bit out of the songs they write about me. Doesn't really have the right ring to it, does it? But what can I say, it was the early 90s. Rolxnorr the Destroyer wasn't exactly topping the baby name charts.
I think my parents hoped a more mainstream name would help me fit in a bit better, although the fancy had apparently passed by the time my brother, Bloknarble the Vicious, was born.
It didn't work. I didn't fit in better. And people treat me just the same as they do Bloknarble. Which is to say, they keep showing up at my house and trying to kill me.
The first time it happened, I admit I... Well, I didn't really understand the context of the situation. I was doing some chores – music on, hair tied up, having a bit of a boogie while I reslimed the settee.
And this guy in head-to-toe army surplus barges in and starts shooting at me. By the time I got the music turned down to see what he wanted, he'd put so much lead in me, I felt like a church roof.
I ate him, obviously. You don't go shoving your way into someone's house putting bullets in them and expect not to get eaten. It shook me up a bit but I had a cup of tea, healed myself up, and put it down to a one-off.
By the fourth such incident, I was starting to think it was a TikTok trend or something. It didn't make much sense to me, but neither do any of those meme things. D'you remember planking?
I asked about online and apparently it's a quest thing. Somehow my description and location were included on one of these listicle things – Top 50 Beasts to Slay Before You're 30.
That's where they're getting all that “terror of the west,” scourgey, deathy, bad breathy stuff from – it's all from this one article from about two years ago that went viral.
There's no point talking to the original author. Even if it hadn't been shared and screenshotted and plagiarised to hell and back, the guy who wrote it died almost immediately after posting. Somebody ate him. And I'm inclined to think he deserved it.
Apparently, my brother's been putting up with this kind of thing for years. I had a chat with him about it over Christmas. But he's fine with it. Seems to think it's just a normal part of life. Perhaps when you grow up called Bloknarble the Vicious you just expect these things. Then again, he is also thick as two particularly thick boulders so who knows. Sorry, Blocky – it's only true.
I'd, uh [laughs] rather not be attacked by questing heroes trying to make their name in the world, as it happens. Maybe it's just the Stephen in me but I'd really rather spend my evenings relabelling the mushrooms or catching up on Doctor Who – I hear it's getting increasingly gay.
Do you have any suggestions to put a stop to this? Or should I just change my name to Stephen the Devourer and embrace my fate?
The Presenter (as themselves)
I'm so sorry you've had to suffer this dreadful breach of privacy. Questing guides have long been a source of difficulty and distress for people of the night. But the advent of the Internet has brought with it an unprecedented level of accessibility and longevity when it comes to sharing information.
It was one thing to have your details recorded in a bestiary in an abbey somewhere, at a time when most people couldn't even read it. Even a pamphlet passed around this inn and that could only survive as long as the paper it was printed on. But, as you've discovered, once something's on the Internet, it's there forever.
Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to remove that information from the reach of those who might do you harm. And although these "heroes" aren't presenting any great risk at the moment, there's no telling how they might escalate.
I'm afraid the only thing you can do to rid yourself of these persistent and alarming attacks on your privacy is to relocate. You can't change the information these people already have. But you can make it useless to them. Otherwise, I worry these attacks will only grow more frequent, and more dangerous to you.
You are, of course, well within your rights to eat these people. No reasonable person could object to that. But these kinds of questers rarely take such a message as it is intended. To them, your very reasonable reaction will look like a challenge – “you may be the 100th person to face the great Stephen the Devourer, but will you be the first to survive?”
It's very silly. But that's the way these people work. For your own safety, nip this in the bud before they try anything that might cause lasting damage.
There are also precautions you can take to ensure this breach of privacy doesn't happen again. Ensure your new home is protected with up to date wards; consider using a PO box instead of your home address; and use glamours to subtly alter your appearance when out and about.
There's no need for anything dramatic. You just want enough difference that, if someone were to post an unsolicited photo of you online or to try to describe you to their friends, the image would be sufficiently inaccurate to give you some peace of mind.
Take stock, too, of your online security. I have been repeatedly informed that apparently, one ought to use... different passwords for one's online accounts. There are... apps... that can remember them all for you, I-- [trails off vaguely]
Find a trusted friend who understands these things to give you hand securing your personal information when you're surfing the information superhighway. With these precautions in place, you should be well protected from similar breaches of privacy in the future. Good luck, listener.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
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[Advert cuts off abruptly]
Oh, gosh, my finger must have slipped and cut the advert off early. How terrible. If only there were something we could do about it. Next tonight, a listener unsure how to discuss a relationship milestone with their partner.
The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)
When my girlfriend gave me back my coat, I don’t think she realised the enormity of the action.
My belovèd usually takes great consideration not to touch or handle my coat, but we were in a bit of a rush on our way to the beach last week and I truly don’t think it occurred to her. She knows the history of my people and how significant our seal skins are, but when she did it, neither of us really… reacted.
In the moment, it just felt right. Her, handing me my coat and then watching by the shore as I dived through the waves, unfurling her own wings so we could race through sea and sky alike. It was... divine.
And it-- it made me realise something. I want to marry her. Like, truly and properly, with all my traditions and all of hers. I’ve never felt this way about someone before. She’s the only person I’d ever trust with my coat, my skin, my very being.
My only hesitation is that marriage is sort of stigmatised in my culture. So, we’ve never really discussed it. I know she loves me as much as I love her, but I don’t know how to ask her how she feels about marriage without just popping the question on the spot.
How do I tell my lover that not only do I want to take this step with her, but also that, technically, by my culture's standards, we’re already married?
The Presenter (as themselves)
Congratulations, listener. What a wonderful realisation to come to.
I don't think you have too much to worry about, here. The conversation will require you to be emotionally vulnerable, but you trust this woman with "your very being". Your love for one another is profound and mutual. You have nothing to fear.
As it happens, I think your specific situation sets you up rather well to have this conversation. You need to tell her that you've accidentally married, that's unavoidable. So why not take the opportunity of that conversation to sound out her feelings on the matter of matrimony?
Find some time together when you can both give the matter your full attention. Perhaps after dinner, when the pressures of the day's to do list are relieved and you have some time to sit and talk at leisure.
Start with the coat. She may or may not have realised the implications of her actions, either in the moment or since. But she certainly won't know how you feel about it unless you tell her. With the conversation already on the topic of marriage, it will be easier for you to bring up the question of your own relationship.
Asking how she feels about the idea of getting married, or telling her that it's something you've been thinking about, is not the same as proposing. In fact, I would strongly recommend to anyone that they get a good idea of how their intended is likely to react to an offer of marriage well before they make such an offer.
Finally, please remember that your feelings are as important as hers on this matter. Relationships are about compromise, and in order to find that compromise, both parties have to be honest about the nature of their wishes, and the strength of their feelings.
With mutual honesty and respect for each other's opinions and traditions, I have no doubt you'll find your way to an outcome you can both be happy with.
Next on the Nightfolk Network, we discuss the creatures in classical music. From Rachmaninoff's massive hands to Vaughan Williams' ties with magical crime families...
[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through pop music, a voice saying “-I think it's nice-”, a voice saying “-do you get a tingling?” and a voice saying “-desecration-” before fading out.
Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]
Episode Fifty Three of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.
Tonight's second letter was submitted by Ovya, and this week's advert came from Art. Thanks, friends. See the show notes for how you can submit your own adverts to the programme, and please note that submissions are now closed for letters and prompts.
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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.
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