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  • Writer's pictureH.R Owen

Episode Five

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Monstrous Agonies E05S01 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Five.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls past opera singing and pop music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-where there never used to be a door at all.

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

The Presenter

You're listening to the Nightfolk Network, in association with blackout curtains from Caligine Interiors – where style meets safety.

[End background music]

The Presenter

It's almost two o'clock on Thursday morning, and time for our weekly advice segment.

Our first question this week is unusually date-specific, so I offer my apologies to those of you who may be listening from an alternative temporal perspective. Please also note that this question includes language some listeners may find offensive.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I've been at my current job for just over ten months, working for a mid-sized actuarial firm. I am open about my identity as a member of the community, though I tend keep details about my private life exactly that – private.

For the most part my identity hasn't been a issue, barring the occasional somewhat ignorant comment or overly personal question. Nothing I'm not able either to ignore, or nip in the bud myself.

I get the feeling I'm the only person of the night many of my colleagues have met. Or at least, know they have met. There is one member of the IT department whom I suspect shares a similar background to myself but if they aren't willing to disclose, I'm certainly not willing to ask.

As I say, I've been at the firm for less than a year and so this is the first time I've been around for their Hallowe'en celebrations.

There's a committee in the office of people who like to organise things – put up decorations, send out emails with plenty of exclamation marks encouraging everyone to Get Into the Spirit. It's all fairly harmless, even if I do find myself deleting most of the emails unread.

Their plans for Hallowe'en are... much as you would expect from such a group. I've long made peace with the tacky, capitalist bastardisation of the festival that now bears the name. I'm even in the habit of keeping a few sweets on hand on the night itself – no need to ruin the children's fun, after all, and some of the costumes are really rather sweet.

Naturally, though, I hold adults to a higher standard. The decorations, I accept. I'm not about to pull someone up in front of the HR department over a toy spider and some spray-on cobwebs.

They're having a party on Friday, but I've booked the day off already. Some friends and I are having a long weekend away. Since I won't have to participate, I'm content to leave my colleagues to it. Let them have their tacky costumes and their ugly, plastic knock-off celebration.

But then, a member of this committee approached me, looking for all the world like a teenager who'd been egged on by his mates to ask out the girl he fancies. Over she came, all smiles and, [mockingly] “Could I just grab you for a minute?” And before I know it she's asking me if I would mind doing a presentation for them about 'my people' and 'our culture' and 'the real meaning of Hallowe'en'.

Now that I think of it, she didn't even ask. She just told me they'd had the idea and thought it would be great if I could 'fill them in' and answer all their few questions.


I wanted to bite her. I wanted to rip her throat out right there, in the middle of their ugly, miserable open plan office, watch the fluorescent light die in her eyes, catch her blood in Andy from the Comms Team's wretched novelty mug, drink it down and howl at them all, [snarling] I'm a real monster before I've had my coffee.


When I told her I'd annual leave booked, she pulled a sad little face, [mockingly] what a shame, perhaps when I come back. I don't recall what I said but she went back to her desk altogether too perky for my liking.

I don't want to talk to them. I've never shared that side of myself with them. I don't want to share it, I do not trust them with it and I do not care about their questions.

I know it's not very community spirited of me and perhaps I should be more invested in 'fighting the good fight' and educating them on the error of their ways but quite frankly I don't want to. I cannot possibly imagine there is anything that I might wish to say that they might wish to hear, and to have the request made in the context of their hollow, mindless degradation of Hallowe'en...

[in a light, airy tone] How can I make it clear to my co-worker that I'm disinterested in her request while maintaining a level of civility that will ensure we can continue having a productive working relationship?

The Presenter (as themselves)

I say, eat her and be done with it.

Otherwise, perhaps find the number of a local community outreach group that the company could hire for a session. You have no obligation to these people. Point this woman and her committee in the direction of those whose job it is to deal with people like them. Let them put their money where their mouth is.

Take your time off, spend the weekend with your friends, and know that, as a part of our community, keeping yourself safe and healthy is fighting the good fight.

Next tonight, what to do when fitting in feels like living a lie.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

I wasn't born into the liminal community. I acquired my condition as an adult, and am the only person of the night in my family. At least, as far as we're aware.

Like many AHAB people, it's easy for me to pass unnoticed in mainstream society. If I don't disclose my identity, people don't tend to notice there's anything... unusual about me.

When I first acquired my condition, I took solace in that fact. Nothing needed to change if I didn't want it to. I didn't have to worry that my friends or colleagues would be scared of me or think I was weird. I could just carry on like before.

But as time goes on, I've got more and more uncomfortable with keeping my identity to myself. It's been almost a year since my transformation, and I've hardly told anyone beyond my immediate family.

Everyone I have told, I made it clear that nothing's changed – I'm the same person I was before. Just because my diet is a bit different now and I can do some interesting things with my tongue doesn't mean I'm some kind of... Uh. You know. I'm just me! Same as always.

So why do I feel like I'm lying to them?

When they make comments I know they wouldn't say if they knew what I was, why do I feel like the guilty one? I don't have a lot of friends in the community, so I don't have anyone I can really talk to about this.

Do most people keep it a secret? It seems like the kind of thing you want to keep a secret. When does a secret become a lie? How do I stop feeling like this?

The Presenter (as themselves)

Listener, I understand. If there is one thing I can tell you, if you only listen to one thing I say tonight, let it be this: You are not alone. There is a whole world of people you can turn to who understand what you're going through, who have been through it themselves and who are ready to share this journey with you.

My first piece of advice to you is to reach out to that community. Being around other people of the night will help you to come to terms with your new identity. Transformation can be a difficult, frightening process and I think making friends who have already experienced it will help a great deal.

You say repeatedly in your letter that nothing is different, nothing has changed, you're the same as you were before. I'm afraid that's simply not true. The fact is, you are different. Like it not, willingly or not, you're one of us now.

You've joined a wide and ancient river of history, a river that encompasses your desire for a “normal” life, yes, but also includes those for whom normal was never an option. It carries in its waters the memory of primordial forests sparkling with eyes and teeth... the burn of the torch... the rip of the pitchfork... endless lives lived and lost at the bloody edge where the normal meets the night.

When people look at us, that's what they see. For some, that's all they see.

I'm not going to tell you how you should feel about your identity. I'm not

going to tell you how you should live your life. You don't owe anything to anyone, except yourself.

What I will tell you is this: there is no amount of normal you can become that will wash the river from your skin. You're soaked the bone, my dear.

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

The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network – everywhere, every when, on 131.3 FM.

[End background music]

That's all for our advice segment tonight. Stay tuned for a special Hallowe'en edition of Cookery Corner. However you're celebrating this weekend, our adaptable recipes are perfect for...

[The Presenter's voice fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through instrumental music, a pop song and static before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

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

You can submit your own monstrous agonies online at, by email at, or find us on Tumblr at Monstrous Agonies.

I'd like to take a moment to say hello to some new patrons – Lee, Jack, and Sophie. Thanks, friends! Join them at

You can also support us by leaving a review on iTunes and sharing the programme with your friends and familiars.

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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