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  • Writer's pictureH.R. Owen

Episode Forty Five

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Monstrous Agonies E45S02 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Forty Five.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through pop music, a voice saying “-things started off well-”, a voice saying “-an Ulster Gaelic Bible-” and two voices overlapping before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-invented the saxophone, despite our best efforts.

It's almost two o'clock on Thursday morning, and time now for our advice segment. This week's first letter is from a listener grappling with their sense of community.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

This isn't urgent. It's not like I've lost any sleep over this. But I do think about it something, and it grates at me. I don't talk about this much, but this – writing in, I mean – it seemed like a... safe idea.

My genus is one of somatic variability. Like many individuals of my genus, I have a preferred form and, uh... Well, I'm-- I'm not sure how to put it. A form that I was in when my parent underwent mitosis and created me.

I do vary my form from day to day. Sometimes I'm in the mood to have breasts, or stubble, or scars, but in general the body I spend the vast majority of my time in looks like a bog-standard sapio – albeit one who's had a run-in with a bottle of hair dye.

This is the crux of my issue. I can easily pass for sapio, and in fact often do. Most people at work, for example, don't know I'm a creature of the night. I actually had a co-worker for a while who was a member of my genus. Their chosen form was an arachno-sapio hybrid. And I never even told them that I was the same genus as them.

I just feel like our worlds are so different. Sure, I've got somatic variability, but I'm never going to have any of the issues that my co-worker will have just existing in sapio-centric society. Our experiences as shapeshifters are completely different, and mine is inarguably easier.

I haven't chosen my preferred form in order to look like a sapio. I reached this form through a combination of what I liked when I was younger, aesthetics, and, to be honest, laziness. Four limbs just seems the easiest, thanks! I'm not trying to pass or anything; this is just what I look like! But I can't help feeling I'm... less of a member of the community, somehow.

I've never interacted too deeply with the greater creature community. My close friends are all creatures, and I always self-identify as a creature online, but I'm not sure I'd have anything to contribute to a real life creature-centred conversation. I mean, I've lived as basically a sapio for decades!

I remember reading about a sapio-presenting shapeshifter who went to a meeting of shapeshifters advertised as being “for creatures of all forms and none.” But they were turned away by the amorphous mound at the door, who said, “You know what we meant.” And I knew that would be me. They don't mean me.

I suppose I'm just looking for a bit of reassurance. It can be hard, sometimes, to feel like I'm really a part of this community. But I-- I am. ...aren't I?

The Presenter (as themselves)

You are. You absolutely are.

I think your letter has hit on a particular question about the way we talk about liminal folk these days. There are many reasons people like us might use the phrase “the creature community” to describe themselves and others like them. For many it's an improvement on the terminology of the past, which some consider clumsy, clunky, or downright offensive.

But it begs the question: to what extent can we really be called a community? Is there enough in common between those who were born creatures and those who were turned; those who are visibly creatures and those who aren't; those whose conditions are painful or distressing and those whose conditions are sources of strength and power; those who are people of the night by choice, and those who had the decision made for them, against their will? Are any of these experiences similar enough to warrant this lumping in?

Certainly some prefer to talk about “creature communities,” or avoid the phrase entirely and use “people of the night” or “liminal folk” instead.

But the idea that we would use this phrase as a catch-all for so many different experiences, only to set completely arbitrary limitations on it after the fact is absurd. It's the broadest term we have, that's why we use it. If we want to be more specific, we can be. If I want to address aquatic genuses in particular – well, look at that. I just did.

The fact is, whatever we're talking about when we talk about “the creature community” includes you. It includes you because you say it does. That's all. The phrase has no meaning beyond the people who claim it.

You mentioned feeling that, because you experience less direct discrimination than other people of the night, your other experiences of creaturehood somehow “don't count.” Perhaps some people define themselves by their oppression. It doesn't sound particularly healthy to me.

One thing I would suggest is to try and unpack some of the ways you talk about your experiences. You might say you are mistaken for sapio, rather than that you “pass”. You don't look like a sapio, you look like a member of your genus. You haven't been living as a sapio. You've been living as yourself.

I'm very glad you wrote in, listener, and glad you feel this is a safe place to bring these questions. And I can reassure you, when I say the Nightfolk Network is for the creature community, I mean that as broadly as it needs to be to include you.

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

The Presenter

In association with Penates Properties. Here at Penates, we offer the widest range of property styles on the market, from volcano lairs and haunted mansions to woodland pools and the inside of a whale. Penates Properties – we do different.

[End background music]

The Presenter

Our second letter tonight comes from someone wrestling with the question of ethical eating.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

I've always been interested in living ethically. Even before I became part of the community, I enjoyed engaging in philosophical debates about what it means to live well, to lead a moral life. And since being turned, well, if-- if anything that's become even more pressing, given the sheer length of life I'm set to enjoy.

In recent years, I've become intrigued by the veganism movement, but as an obligate haematophage, I can't practice it myself. And not for a lack of trying!

I briefly tried a high-protein, high-iron vegan diet until my body started to shut down from malnourishment. My sire had to use an IV drip to get enough blood in me to regain the strength to eat on my own, and neither of us are keen to repeat the experience.

I tried drinking grass-fed animal blood instead, which temporarily worked! But it had the same effect as if a sapio tried to live purely on Pringles and Cherry Coke. My friends have offered to let me feed on them, but I have some trouble holding back and I don't want to hurt them. Or worse.

For now, I'm dependent on blood bank donations. But I'm concerned about the packaging. It's a lot of single-use plastics, and it can't be recycled because it's technically a biohazard.

So I'm back trying to find an alternative that causes the least amount of harm for both the planet and for the people who live on it. Whose blood should I drink?

The Presenter (as themselves)

You're not alone in struggling with this, listener. Ethical eating is not an easy topic to navigate, especially in cases such as yours where the people you feed from may be badly injured or even killed by the encounter.

Blood bank donations are generally seen as the most ethical in terms of reducing harm to those you feed from, but as you rightly point out, they too have their difficulties.

Feeding directly is, as you've identified, the most environmentally sustainable option. And in fact, when properly applied, can directly benefit the environment. Listener, have you considered eating the rich?

For most of us, our ability to impact climate change as consumers has been wildly and intentionally overblown. It's very healthy for us to resist the cultural narratives of hyper-consumption and capitalist greed, and making more sustainable choices is a part of that. But most of us do not have the same consumer power that you do.

Only a handful of companies are responsible for the vast majority of global greenhouse gas emissions. We know which companies. And who their board members are.

Or, you might want to look closer to home for sustenance. Any large town or city will likely have an unfortunately healthy population of landlords from which to feed.

However, if grass-fed animal blood is comparable to Pringles and pop, landlords are the haematophagic equivalent of highly nutritious wallpaper paste. I appreciate you may wish to subsidise your diet with other, more palatable, fare.

You can always find volunteers online. The Internet is a wonderful resource when it comes to finding willing participants to all sorts of activities, and I have no doubt you'll be able to find plenty of people ready to give informed and enthusiastic consent to whatever you want to do with them, whatever the risk.

Whatever course of action you decide to take, please rest assured that you, as an individual, are not responsible for climate change. Billionaires are. And it's OK to kill and eat them.

[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

Up next tonight, we talk to our special guest Theo about the harmful stereotypes and superstitions surrounding black cats. Theo, thank you for coming in.


Meow. Meow meow...

[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-steady in Northern Ireland-”, pop music and a voice saying “-we need to find a better way forward-” before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

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

Tonight's first letter was from a submission by Exal, the second letter came from Ariel, and this week's advert came from Rad. Thanks, friends! See the show-notes for how you can submit your own letters, suggestions and ads.

If you're enjoying the programme, please consider supporting it on Patreon at, or making a one-off donation at You can also help us grow our audience by sharing with your friends and familiars, and by 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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