Episode Forty Eight
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Monstrous Agonies E48S02 Transcript
[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]
Monstrous Agonies: Episode Forty Eight.
[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through static, pop music, a voice saying “-the same day-”, a voice saying “-and if you're into history-” and piano music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]
-the hollowed-out corpse of God, in which we live.
If you've just tuned, you're right on time for our advice segment, where I answer your questions on liminal living.
I'm pleased to say that we have not received any more letters of the type we've been so plagued with in recent weeks, so it seems the new addition to the team is pulling her weight at least. Having someone else in the studio is--
Fine. You can look at me through the window all you want. It's fine. Of course all of the pens have been replaced with glitter gel pens but-- [sighs] It's for the good of the station. So. It's fine.
Our first letter tonight comes from a listener whose boundaries are being tested.
The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)
I have recently lost my long term partner. We met when we were both barely out of childhood, and she lived to a good age, for her genus. I'm not writing to you out of grief, I know how to handle that.
But I am finding that, without her at my side, the community has become far less welcoming. Neither of us ever really talked about our specific genus. For various reasons, we felt detached from our species, and never viewed it as an important part of either of our identities. This was fine. People respected this.
However, now that she's gone, I am finding that every new community I enter is immediately suspicious of me. She was visibly a member of the community, and I am not. She may not have made her genus known, but everyone knew she wasn't sapio.
With me, it's not obvious. And I'm finding it very hard to communicate with new acquaintances in creature spaces without them acting as if I don't belong. Some ask outright, but even the ones who don't, I can tell they're wondering.
Frankly, for very personal reasons that I will not share just to reassure somebody else, I don't consider myself part of a genus. I want nothing to do with that identity. But I still identify as a creature of the night.
How do I make it clear I am part of this community without having to explain myself? I don't want to invalidate the struggles our people have faced in gaining recognition for our varied natures. All I ask is the same acceptance in regard to my own disconnect from my species. [sighs] How do I remain part of this community that I love?
The Presenter (as themselves)
I'm sorry for your loss, listener. May her memory be a blessing. As for the body of your letter, I'm not sure you're asking quite the right question. You are part of this community. There's no two ways about it. The issue isn't how you remain with us, but how you deal with those people treating you as if you owe them an explanation for your presence.
There are two parts to this. The first is to make explicit what others would be more comfortable you left implicit. That sense that they're suspicious of you, that they're wondering about your genus even if they don't say anything.
If someone makes you uncomfortable, you are well within your rights to tell them so. Bring it out into the open. You don't need to be combative, but nor should you feel you have to bite your tongue and put up with this treatment.
In the best case scenario, the person you're talking to may not realise they've been behaving so badly. If you're in a group setting, there might be structures they can put in place to make those of an undisclosed or indeterminate genus more welcome. By speaking up, you're giving them the opportunity to do better.
If they don't respond well, stick to your guns. You've made your boundaries very clear – you will not share information about your genus, or about the reasons you have rejected those identifiers. If they won't respect those boundaries, that is not the space for you. You can leave safe in the knowledge that you have conducted yourself with dignity and integrity.
You ask how you can make it clear that you're a part of the community, but frankly, that's not your job. You are a part of the community. It's up to others to respect that.
Maintain your boundaries. Stay true to yourself. Demand the acceptance you undoubtedly deserve. And to hell with anyone who refuses you.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
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[End background music]
Our next letter asks how to avoid potential culture clash.
The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)
I would like some advice in telling my friend some news. We have been friends for a long time but somehow I’m still not sure how to ask them a particular question without causing offence. I got married a couple of decades ago and my wife and I have been enjoying the newly-wed bliss. But recently we realised that we would like to procreate.
I come from a genus where chosen family is the norm and biological family is... rather more optional [laughs] So we’ve been very intentional about telling close friends about our plans so we can build up our support network.
The creation of new life is a fairly tricky process for our species and not something we can really do without assistance. At least, not without putting the surrounding population at serious risk.
So we’ve spent a lot of time organising and researching and managed to find a warlock who specialises in this sort of thing. They've been very helpful, and helped us source the last of the substances we need, and now we’re really just waiting for the next blood moon to go ahead.
It’s really exciting but it's also a big commitment so building this support network has been key and I would love my friend to be a part of it.
We come from two very different parts of the creature community and one of the most wonderful things about being their friend has been getting to discover all the amazing commonalities and differences between us.
However, there has always been one topic we’ve stayed away from. It’s not something I really had to think about in a personal way before but my friend comes from a side of the community who practice Devouring. Capital D, I mean. The Great Devouring.
As you know, it's considered an enormous honour to have a family member selected for the ritual. But it's not... necessarily... an honour we would be keen to have bestowed upon our family. How, um. [clears throat] How do I ask my friend not to eat my baby without sounding rude?
The Presenter (as themselves)
Congratulations on your burgeoning family, listener, and best of luck with the ritual. I'm very glad to hear you sought the advice of a licensed warlock to assist you in this delicate undertaking. All too many would-be parents believe they can go it alone on such matters, and the fall-out of a poorly-managed blood moon enwombening can be... catastrophic, to say the least.
With regards to your friend, I'm there's no way to directly address the issue without coming across a little insensitive. It's rather rare these days for the children of families not of the faith to be selected for the Great Devouring, and most adherents understand that the appeal of such an honour is somewhat limited for non-believers.
If you mention the matter unprompted, I'm afraid it could come across as insulting your friend's level of cultural sensitivity. But of course, just because it's rare for non-believing families to be selected, doesn't mean it's impossible, and I appreciate that's not a risk you're willing to take.
You mention several times in your letter that you are keen for your chosen family to play a significant role in the part of you and your child's support network. One way you could achieve this, and head off any unwanted traditions before they rear their metaphorical and literal heads is to invite your friends to take part in a welcoming ritual of your own.
Most cultures across the world have some kind of ceremony that recognises the significance of a new arrival, from secular baby showers to religious defenestrations. If there's something in your culture, or your partners, that feels appropriate, invite your friends to participate.
Alternatively, you could always create your own ceremony, incorporating the traditions of your friends in a way that respects their cultures without putting your child at risk. For this friend in particular, you could perform a symbolic Devouring, with an edible effigy of your child. Marzipan is a common choice for these occasions, I believe.
This also gives you the opportunity to bring up the topic of the Devouring without insult. Tell your friend that you're interested in their culture, that you know the Great Devouring is a significant event, but, due to the fact you would strongly prefer not to feed your first-born to the Eternal Maw of Unslaked Hunger, you'd like to explore some alternatives.
Once you've made that very clear, you and your friend can work together find a way for them to show their affection and commitment to your child in a less final fashion.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
The Nightfolk Network. Don't touch that dial.
[End background music]
Next tonight, we're talking deja vu. With time existing at once as a closed loop, a rich tapestry, and a depthless void, it can be easy to lose track of one's place...
[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through guitar music, a voice saying “-to encourage a swift revival-”, pop music and static before fading out.
Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]
Episode Forty Eight of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.
Tonight's first letter was submitted by Robin, the second letter came from Beth, and this week's advert came from Fyre. Thanks, friends. See the show-notes for how you can submit your own letters, suggestions and ads.
Hello and welcome to our latest supporters on Patreon, Darth Quill, Exal, and Mick. Join them at patreon.com/monstrousagonies. You can also make a one-off donation a ko-fi.com/hrowen, and help us grow our audience 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. Then:
[Soft, plinky music begins. It plays throughout.]
A few forum users have got wind of something strange; it’s an advertisement, for some kind of Arcanist meeting place.
Arcanists coming together? That makes no sense.
I know, that’s what I thought too. But it’s not just that either, there’s something else. Ever since what happened in the house I’ve felt it. It’s like the volume has been turned up on the universe. Maybe it’s because I’m going outside more now but-- I don’t know.
I feel more whole somehow. And the mark, on my throat, where Bliss severed the bond to Madame Marie’s arcane maze? The scar has grown, spread, like lightning crawling though my skin, right up to my chin, all the way down my chest. It’s a scar, but, it’s old, white, almost pearlescent--
Yes, hah. Sorry, Revel, darling. I did get distracted again, didn’t I?
[Music changes to sinister chip tune]
Is it... some sort of cult?
A cult? No. Arcanists don’t really do cults. What? Why are you looking at me like that-- the microphone? Anna! No. Spirit Box Radio is not a cult!
Whatever you say. But it sounds awfully like a cult to me.
What are you going to do about it?
[As Sam speaks, the music turns softer, dreamier]
I don’t know. I feel different now. Insignificance is a pretty sort of delusion. Imagine, of all the people in the world, that you would be the only one that doesn’t matter? How preposterous. Narcissistic even. You mean so much because you are. I don’t know your name, and I don’t need to. Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio.
[The Spirit Box Radio theme rises]
Spirit Box Radio Season Two is coming December 2nd 2021. Listen to all forty episodes of season one for free wherever you listen to podcasts. Tune in, get spooky.
[The music crescendos, then fades to silence]