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  • Writer's pictureH.R. Owen

Episode Ninety

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Monstrous Agonies E90S03 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Ninety.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through pop music, a voice saying “-brace for snowstorms-”, a voice saying “-do it right now!-” and a voice saying “'-how can we allow this to happen,' he asked-” before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-flames licking green around the yellowing pages.

The time is 1.47 on Thursday morning, which means it's time again for our advice segment. This week's, we're starting off with a listener feeling isolated after an unexpected change.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I suppose I should just launch right into it, huh? Um. About six months ago, my best friend and I were rather violently launched into the creature community. We were involved in the same incident. Um. Well, uh. Attack, I-I suppose. But it affected us in rather different ways.

He's now a member of the lycanthrope community, while I am what I'm told is generally referred to as... “risen”. It's rather euphemistic but I suppose if that's the agreed terminology, it'll have to do. Apart from some initial growing pains, he's wholeheartedly embraced his new community. I've... Um. Well, I've struggled a little bit more.

It's been hard to accept my new identity. My friend is physically fluid, depending on the lunar cycle, but I'm still mostly sapio, with the exception that I continue to decay. As... As a-a corpse would.

This has been agonising. And profoundly alienating. Not many people want to grab coffee with someone whose nose has a tendency to fall into their cup. [weak laugh and sigh]

And there's... more. Um. [sighs] I don't know how but the incident that changed us... Somehow it linked our lives. The only thing keeping me here is my friend's life. I can't pass on until he does. I can't ever find peace while he's alive.

I'm tired of existing like this, one foot in the living world and one in the realm of the dead. But my friend is so happy now. It took him a while to find his feet, but he's finally got to a place where he's really happy with his new identity. His new community.

If I told him how I feel, it would erase all that progress. And he- He has no idea that my life, if you can call it that, is linked with his. I couldn't bear it if I said something and it... made him consider what he would have to do to... to set me free.

[emotional] I just... I feel so lost. I-I don't know what to do here. I don't even know if you can help me, but you're the only resource left for me to turn to. How can I adjust to my new state of being? How can I broach this topic with David? Can I even, should I? Please help.

The Presenter (as themselves)

I am so sorry you're in this position, listener. It sounds extremely distressing, and I understand that you feel quite extraordinarily isolated. However, I don't think your friend is the person to talk to about these feelings.

Even if your existence wasn't entwined with his, he's going through his own period of transformation and discovery. I sincerely doubt he'd have the emotional resources left to help you through your own journey.

As it is, making him aware of your entwined existence would bring an untenable tension to your relationship. It presents him with an impossible choice – to deny his friend the peace they so desperately crave... Or to destroy himself.

Instead, try connecting with other people experiencing post-death vitality, especially other risen folk. You can always do this over the Internet if meeting in person in your current state of decay feels impossible. They will be able to help you explore your new identity, and give you the kind of support your friend can't.

I also think you need to seek out professional help, both for your mental and physical well-being. You need help processing all that's happened to you, from the trauma of the attack itself through to your relationship with your changing body. Seek out a therapist who specialises in forcibly acquired conditions, and all the better if they have experience with risen clients, too.

As for your physical form, you say the incident took place over six months ago, but you're still losing external flesh. It sounds as if your body is decaying rather more slowly than one might expect, which could make you a good candidate for stasis treatments designed to arrest the progress of decay altogether.

Alternatively, you might prefer to look into the opposite end of things – accelerating decay to achieve a state of full fleshlessness.

This would be quite an adjustment, and you would need further treatments to ensure ongoing skeletal cohesion, but it is an increasingly popular choice, both for reasons of corporeal stability and aesthetics.

Your GP will be able to take you through the different treatments available and how they might affect you. You don't have to decide straight away. What matters is that you know you have options.

You don't have to simply accept the hand you've been dealt, and the unhappiness its brought you. You deserve peace, and I believe you can find it – and without the awful cost to your friend.

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

The Presenter

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[End background music]

The Presenter

Our second letter tonight is from a listener seeking righteous vengeance.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

Adult friendship's a funny old thing, isn't it? When you're at school, all it takes is sitting next to someone in invocation class to forge a friendship you're sure will last a lifetime.

But as an adult, you can know someone for, oh, centuries, and still not be counted as much more than a mere acquaintance. [laughs and tuts] Apparently.

If I was writing this last week, I'd tell you that my friend is expecting her first child. But if this was last week, I wouldn't be writing to you at all. I'd be trundling along in blissful ignorance of the quisling in my midst.

A woman of my acquaintance is expecting her first child. And I can only assume she has some sort of bizarre medical condition wherein her sense of decency is stored in her womb and so she has been forced to flush it from her system entirely in order to make space for the bouncing bundle of joy.

Oh, I'm happy for her, of course. Thrilled! Simply delighted. And what a joy it would have been for me to share that delight with her, perhaps at, at some kind of, uh, gathering. A getting-together of those who love her, and want the best for her, perhaps with the intention of showering her with gifts for the baby, some kind of baby-related, gift-showering event, something one might even call... a baby shower!

Oh, I would love to participate in such an event! And by a stroke of luck, it just so happens that the woman in question is, indeed, holding a baby shower not two weeks hence. Unfortunately, I find myself unable attend as I... have not been invited.

Well! I am nothing if not a traditionalist. If she didn't want to face the consequences of her actions, she should have thought a little more carefully when she wrote her guest list.

My quandary is this. I am not much concerned with the breaking of sapio laws. What are they going to do, arrest me? [laughs] I'd like to see them try.

But I am very much beholden to the far more ancient and far more immutable laws of the court to which I belong. And these laws dictate that I must exact my revenge on the parent by punishing the child.

It's literally a foetus. Even I'm not that petty. But I'm not going to let this insult go unanswered.

So, that's my question for you – what's a good, clean curse I can put on this child that will ensure its mother suffers no end of embarrassment, misery and indignity... while not actually harming the bairn itself?

The Presenter (as themselves)

Listener, I understand completely. I myself have been the victim of just such an act of scorn and, though it was two years ago now and our relationship has improved somewhat, I confess, if my acquaintance had had a child, I would have been sorely tempted, even without being beholden to such magical laws.

I understand, too, your desire not to harm the child itself. It does seem a rather unnecessarily vindictive tendency in this type of magical law, and I'm glad to see people are moving away from a strict interpretation to favour a more modern approach.

There are a few styles of thinking that might meet your needs. I will say now, anything involving the relationship between mother and child itself ought not to be considered – cursing the mother to disdain the child, for example, or to find it embarrassing. The child deserves to be loved and cherished by its parents, as all children do.

You might instead prefer to give the child great delight and joy in a particularly disruptive hobby. 'May your enthusiasm for playing an instrument be directly inverse to your skill,' for example.

With this curse, the child will spend its life picking up new, exciting instruments, playing them disastrously badly, and then losing interest as soon as they gain any kind of expertise.

You could even introduce them to some choice instruments under the guise of a thoughtful gift – baby's first bagpipes, say, or its very own pipe organ.

In a similar vein, you could give the child the gift of great skill in a career that would make their parent's toes curl. Grant them success and satisfaction in their future life as an indie game developer, or an erotic artist, or, shame of shames, a podcaster.

These are just a few suggestions to get you started. You'll want to refine your ideas based on your knowledge of this woman and what might irritate her most. And by all means, get creative with it.

Provided you account for the child's happiness in whatever curse you choose, your only limit is your imagination.

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

The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network on 131.3FM. Don't touch that dial.

[End of background music]

The Presenter

Up next tonight, navigating gavelkind in the 21st century. Despite falling somewhat out of favour in the last several decades, gavelkind remains the predominant inheritance system in several realms, most notably the Kentish assembly, the Court of Mists, and the...

[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-I'm just boiling the kettle-”, choral music, pop music, and a voice saying, “-keep it up, girl, you've got this-” before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

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

Tonight's first letter was submitted by Amelia E. Jones, the second letter was from Caw Mossworm, and this week's advert came from itsthekiks. Thanks, friends.

If you're enjoying the programme, please consider supporting us at, or make a one-off donation at You can also 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]


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