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  • Writer's pictureH.R. Owen

Episode Ninety Eight

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Monstrous Agonies E98S03 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Ninety Eight.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through classical music, static, opera singing, indistinguishable speech, and a voice saying “-two thousand five hundred seconds-” before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-the seething, writhing vengeance of the swarm.

Next tonight, I answer your questions on liminal living. First up, a listener trying to support their child through a difficult period.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I’ve been listening to your broadcasts for about half a century now. Your voice in the background has been a good source of company during the hunts I go on for my job. Still, I’ve hesitated to ask this because… Well. It’s about my son.

For a bit of background, I am of an immortal and haematophagic genus, still fairly young, just over two hundred and fifty years old. Two hundred and thirty since I was turned.

The problem started with my job. I won’t go into details. It’s all quite classified. All I can say is that what I do has earnt me quite a few enemies in the creature community.

Thankfully these enemies didn’t know about my son for fourteen years after I adopted him. Fourteen years of peace. But then, somehow, someone caught wind of him. Which, of course, put him in immediate danger.

I tried teaching him how to defend himself, but it- It wasn’t enough. He was attacked by a vindictive lycanthrope. I’ve dealt with them. But the damage had already been done.

Ever since he was t-turned, he’s become sullen. Closed off. That spark of the bright young boy I found all those years ago, just snuffed out.

I know what it’s like to suddenly have your genus changed. I lived through it, and I had to do it on my own. But he has me. He knows I’m there for him. That I’m there to help. And he’s still hiding himself away.

What do I do? How- how can I help him? Is there any way for me to help him, whether with his mental recovery or physical? Is there any kind of therapy you recommend? I just want him to be happy. Please help me help him. I need to know he’ll be okay.

The Presenter (as themselves)

I hear your concerns, listener, and I will speak to them shortly with what advice I can give. But first, I would like to note my surprise that you have continued in a career that so directly puts your child at risk.

Your son has been forcibly turned by someone seeking vengeance on you. With proper support and care, there is no reason why he shouldn’t make a full recovery, both physically and emotionally. But neither is there any reason he should have been subjected to this attack in the first place.

You say you’ve tried to teach him how to defend himself. In what possible world is it appropriate for a fourteen year old child to be expected to defend himself from such an occurrence?

I don’t say this to shame you but to urge you to action. You can’t do anything about enemies you have already made, but please, reconsider this career before you make any more – and before you put him in any more danger.

In terms of his recovery, I think he would benefit a great deal from some counselling. Provide him with a safe, professional relationship where he can talk things through in his own time and on his own terms.

Otherwise, the only thing you can do is remain present, keep demonstrating your availability and willingness to talk, and wait for him to come to you. And please, take heart. Children are remarkably resilient, and the chances are good that he will bounce back from this sooner than you might expect.

In fact, he may well have already processed his feelings about the matter, and be concerned with something quite different. After all, a fourteen year old boy becoming surly and uncommunicative is hardly cause for panic.

Give him time. Encourage open conversation about what happened, and focus on responding to whatever he brings to you with open-mindedness and acceptance.

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

The Presenter

Have your familiars unionised? Do they demand you raise their pay, allow their pets on your property, address them as… equals? Does your empire rely on false promises of wealth and immortality, meaning you can't afford to start holding up your end of the deal or you'll go destitute?

Well, tough luck! Join the Familiars' Union today and get a free water bottle. We legally can't tell you who to throw it at but we think you know. Proud members of the Nightfolk Network.

[End background music]

The Presenter

Our second letter tonight is from a listener feeling overwhelmed by their possessions.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

This might seem comparatively silly, but the long and short of it is: I have too much stuff. By sapio standards I’d likely be considered a “hoarder”, which is a ridiculous word to use in a derogatory fashion.

How would humans like it if I started running around calling people “thumb-havers” as an insult? Of course I’m a “hoarder”, having a hoard is a major part of my genus’s culture.

Though, even if I were a different genus, I doubt I’d be a minimalist. I think a home needs a bit of clutter to feel properly lived in. I don’t actually want my den to look like it’s copied directly out of Gnomes & Gardens, you know?

But there’s a difference between “homey and personable” and “about one purchase away from suffocating in your own stuff”.

Most of my kind choose one specific thing to hoard. But I suppose you could say that I hoard hobbies. I often find myself picking up musical instruments or crafting supplies or personal gym equipment on a whim.

And it would be fine if I just threw it all away once I’d finished with that hobby. But I tend to be quite cyclical in my interests.

Sure, I’ve put down the theremin for now in favour of screen-printing, say, but in, oh, 20 years or so, I’ll almost certainly get back into it. It seems frivolous to get rid of something you’re going to use again so soon.

On top of this, I’m a triple threat of long-lived, impulsive and sentimental. My items are often tied to a specific memory, especially if it’s a gift. I kept a particular hand towel for many years, despite technically not having hands, because a maiden once used it to staunch my wounds. [laughs]

Getting rid of these things feels like tossing away the whole moment, or chucking a whole person straight into the bin. You can imagine, any attempt at downsizing quickly becomes something of a nightmare.

Honestly, my place is embarrassing. [sighs] Embarrassing and claustrophobic and near impossible to find anything in! I’ve tried finding tips online, reading home organisation books, even binged some (ultimately condescending) “lifestyle coach” videos.

But every time I try to get things back into a liveable condition, I’ll spend hours on it, and not even make a dent! Just looking at the piles and piles of stuff is so overwhelming and frustrating and I just- Urgh!

[sighs] I’m sorry if I come across as whiny. Like, boohoo, I’ve lead the kind of life where it’s too easy for me to acquire material goods! What a tragedy! But I really could use some help. At this point I can barely stand to even look at my den, let alone have anyone over.

Short of having a brain that operates completely differently from my own and thus didn’t place me in this quite literal mess in the first place, what can I do to be able to breathe in my own home?

The Presenter (as themselves)

First of all, listener, I want to reassure you. This is not a “silly” problem, or something you need to tackle on your own. Our homes are profoundly important spaces, and you deserve to live somewhere you feel comfortable and able to relax.

There are two reasons you mentioned for holding onto items, and I think it’s worth taking each of them separately. Let’s start with the sentimental items.

It is perfectly reasonable to want to keep hold of items that remind you of happy times and important relationships. But right now, those items are causing you nothing but stress and anxiety, and are quite unable to provide you the comfort and cheer you want from them.

Instead of demanding you throw these items away, I recommend you find some way to honour the precious place they have in your heart. Invest in some beautiful storage boxes to keep them in, or put up shelves and display units so you can have them on show. You could even have the hand towel framed if you wanted.

It will take time to find a proper home for each item. But I think you’ll find that less daunting and more productive than trying to force yourself to throw things away. In addition, you will find it easier to keep things tidy once everything has a designated space to be tidied away to.

When it comes to the various accoutrements you gather in the course of expanding your hoard of hobbies, I think you need to take a different tack.

It’s wonderful that you are so willing to learn new skills and make time for new passions. There is nothing wrong with this impulse. In fact, the world would be a better place if more people allowed themselves to try out something new.

Have you considered using your collection to enable others to do just that? After all, you can’t use all these items at the same time, and it seems a shame for them to be gathering dust in the meantime.

Consider donating to local community groups, the public library, or, if you have one neary, a local tool library. Your collection could be a real boon to people looking to borrow the equipment they need to explore new passions. And remember – you can always borrow back your own theremin when the mood takes you.

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

The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network on 131.3FM – community owned, community run.

[End of background music]

The Presenter

Time now for our monthly book club. This month, we’ve been dabbling in non-fiction as we read the autobiography of a figure as influential as he is controversial – Mister B. Gone…

[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-by seriously popular demand-”, pop music, a voice saying “-I think it’s the culture-” and a voice saying “-there are no clear rules-” before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

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

Tonight's first letter was submitted by Tinytonimeloni, the second letter was from Nat-20s, and this week's advert came from Bug. Thanks, friends.

Hello and welcome to our latest supporter on Patreon, Rae. Join them 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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