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Episode One Hundred and Eight

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Monstrous Agonies E108S03 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]


H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode One Hundred and Eight.


[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through two pieces of pop music, a voice saying “-don’t get into the wrong hands-”and more pop music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-oozing up between long, pale toes.


Next on the Nightfolk Network, I’m answering listeners’ questions in our weekly advice segment. Tonight’s first letter comes from a listener concerned about their public image.


The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

First off, I won’t be signing this with my name. The reason for that is twofold. One, my name is rather well-known and I’d rather not this get any more attention than it already has.

Two, the power of names is a tricky thing, as I’m sure you’re well aware of due to your, uh... Oh, what are you calling her these days? Your ‘business associate’? [laughs] Fooling nobody, by the way.


Anyway, she’ll know all about the trouble one can make for oneself with a name. So. Let’s keep this just as anonymous as we can, eh?

I’m in the business of collecting souls. It’s rather competitive, but once you get a foot in the door, it’s quite enjoyable. And alright, I may have played with my clients a bit more than is proper. Struck a few bargains, bent a few rules. But a man’s allowed his fun, isn’t he?


About a week ago, I decided I was overdue a bit of R&R. I decided to watch a film. And it just so happened that the film I chose had an antagonist who was clearly based on me.


At first, this wasn’t a problem. I have no shame about what I do. It was rather fun actually, watching my endeavours from an outside perspective. I never realised just how creative I could be, as I toy with my victi- [clears throat] Clients.

But as the film went on, I became slowly but surely enraged. They’d turned me into some soppy, romance-driven tortured soul, whose only objective was to woo the main character – a woman, by the by, who could not have been less interesting if she were literally made out of beige carpet!


All of my hard work cultivating my image. Centuries of working my way up to the top of the chain, making mine a name to be respected and feared! All of it, destroyed by some pranced-up sapio director who obviously has more money than common sense. The utter gall!

Now, I know what the obvious answer here is. Find the ones responsible for this film, convince them to sell their souls, and burn them in hellfire for the rest of eternity! [laughs]

As much as I might like to, I can’t take the soul of everybody involved. It would completely disrupt the spiritual economy for one thing, and besides, I simply don’t have the time. I am a very busy man, after all.

How do you think I can best salvage my reputation? As previously stated, it’s quite obvious this is meant to be me, and my associates are going to find out about this film eventually.

The Presenter (as themselves)

I think actually, listener, your best bet is to simply ignore the situation. I know you say that this character is clearly based on you, but is it possible you might be mistaken?

I don’t say this to correct you. I only mean to draw your attention to the fact that, however unlikely it might be, there is a chance these film-makers have accidentally created a character who bears some resemblance to you.


And if it is possible for this to have been an accident, then it is possible for you to deny the association. Lean into that plausible deniability.


If your colleagues discover this film, simply deny all knowledge of it. It’s beneath your notice, you have better things to do than watch silly films about people doing your job badly.

Should they insist, stand your ground and refuse to give countenance to the suggestion that this character is, somehow, you. Emphasise the differences between this character and yourself.


There may be some superficial similarities, but they are a soft-hearted romantic with terrible taste in women. They’re really nothing like you at all.

If you let this film upset you, and let that upset show, you’re only going to lend credence to the idea that there is something in the comparison. Ignore it, deny it, and move on.


I also strongly recommend you learn to keep your comments about other people’s business associates to yourself.


Their relationship, even a perfectly ordinary working relationship, is not your concern, and I think you’ll find forgetting this important lesson can be quite as dangerous as any degree of carelessness around one’s name.


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


The Presenter

Brought to you by Tayt’s Togs, cutting edge fashion for the liminal community. Our all new non-corporeal shoes are designed to fit perfectly where your feet aren’t, while our invisible clothing line comes in every style imaginable – and several unimaginable ones! Looking for a fresh new fit? Try Tayt’s Togs today! Proud members of the Nightfolk Network.


[End background music]

The Presenter

Our second letter tonight asks what can be done about difficult feelings around transformation.


The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

My parents are quite conservative in their views. As a kid this meant that any deviation from what they considered normal was... not exactly punished, not directly.


But it would make them more likely to get upset with me for stuff they might have overlooked otherwise, like if I was being a bit noisy or slow with my chores.


They'd also make comments about how things didn’t suit me if it wasn't the right colour or type of clothing. They were often casually transphobic and homophobic around me so I was very aware of who I could be at home and who I couldn’t.

They never commented on my shapeshifting, though. On my mother's side, shifting is pretty common, though it is usually binary – either human or mallard duck. [laughs] Not the coolest shifting trick in the world but honestly, I wouldn't change it for anything.


So, as a kid my only way to avoid my parents’ strict enforcement of gender presentation was to, well... Duck!


Mallard ducks do have sexual dimorphism when it comes to colouration but that didn't matter to me. I was out of their rules, out of the body and presentation that was suffocating me.


I don't talk to my parents any more. I moved out, came out over the phone, and was told not to come back. Their loss.


Since then, I've been wearing what I want, presenting how I want, and I'm even starting hormones soon! [laughs] It's, uh… Well, it’s-it’s the happiest I've ever been.

Except I don't know how, or even if, hormones will affect my duck form. I am terrified that if it doesn't change – if I’m still presenting as a duck of my assigned gender at birth – then shifting could make me dysphoric and I won't want to do it any more.


I don't want to lose this part of myself. It was my only comfort, the only way I could feel right in my body for so long. But I can't not transition. What do I do?


The Presenter (as themselves)

First of all, listener, congratulations. However you choose to pursue transition, I hope you can feel that you’re already living your truth, and being the person you need to be.


Unfortunately your identity as a transgender person of the night puts you at a rather uncomfortable crossroads. There is, frankly, very little research on the myriad ways transgender healthcare might intersect with liminal healthcare, including specific research on how gender affirming hormone treatments effect different genuses.


You might be able to find some valuable information and support from online communities. Try talking to other shifters who have experienced similar hormonal changes, either due to medical transition or because of hormonal imbalances or intersex conditions.


Do talk to your doctors, too. Any endocrinologist worth their salt will give you time and space to talk about your concerns, and will do their best to answer them, at least from a strictly medical perspective.


[The studio door opens and closes]

The Presenter

They may not be able to answer your questions with much specificity. But that is also true for any of the other changes that might come from this kind of hormone treatment.


[Mab clears her throat. The Presenter speaks more loudly, ignoring her.]

The Presenter

You can make an educated guess based on how others in your genus have responded to hormonal changes, or by looking at cisgender family members whose bodies naturally produce the same hormones you’ll be taking. But there are no guarantees here.

[Mab clears her throat again, louder and more pointed. The Presenter continues, determined]


The Presenter

Instead, it might help to work on how you’re framing your medical transition. You aren’t doing this in order to become cisgender. There’s no amount of hormones or surgery that will do that. You’re doing it to be able to look in the mirror and see your authentic self looking ba-

Mab

Gosh, what a delightful collection of stationery supplies I have discovered. [The Presenter sighs] What a terrible shame it would be if some unknown force were to compel me to start throwing them around the room, most specifically in the direction of someone’s head.

The Presenter

If you so much as lay a finger on a single post-it, I swear to you now, Angharrad and Twpsyn will not survive the night.


Mab

[gasps] Don’t bring the children into this!

The Presenter

I’m not talking to you while I am on the air. You can wait.


Mab

Of course I can. But I don’t want to! Besides, this is something I think our beloved listeners are going to want to hear.


[Pause. The Presenter sighs.]


The Presenter

Let me finish this answer.


Mab

Ugh! If you insist.

The Presenter

[sighing] Where was I? [clears throat] Listener, if your duck form doesn’t change with your medical transition, uh... I think that’s... fine? You’ll just look like a trans duck. Which you are, sort of. It’s fine. Just, um. Uh. Try not to worry about it, I suppose.


Mab

Mm. Not your finest work.


The Presenter

Your comments have been noted. What’s this about?


Mab

Apocacorp, of course. The CEO specifically. Did you see they have a podcast now? I haven’t listened to it, it looks dreadful-

The Presenter

I thought I told you to leave well enough alone!

Mab

If you believed that would stop me, you’re a bigger fool than you look.

The Presenter

Oh for pity’s sake…


Mab

Don’t pretend you don’t want to know. Go on. Ask me what I’ve found out.


[The Presenter sighs.]

The Presenter

[reluctantly] What have you found out?

Mab

You remember I was looking into that business with the [she mimics a static sound] evil static, scary threats, [mimicking the Presenter] Ohlistener, have you tried not ripping things out of the fabric of the universe because you got scorny when the physical manifestation of Forbes magazine blew vape smoke in your eyes and made you confront your own mortality?


[A long pause]


The Presenter

...“Scorny”?


Mab

Scared and horny. See also, “scaroused”.


The Presenter

Of course! How silly of me. Please, continue.


Mab

Something about the static didn’t sit right with me. It didn’t… Oh, I don’t know how to explain it! It didn’t taste like bargaining magic.

The Presenter

The static… didn’t taste right?


Mab

Oh, darling, you know I love it when you’re supercilious. Condescend to me, baby!

The Presenter

OK, OK! It didn’t taste right. Carry on.


Mab

Well, that’s the thing. It didn’t taste right for bargaining magic. But it was still terribly familiar and after all, I don’t only deal in bargains and contracts. There is one other field I happen to be rather a dab hand at.

The Presenter

Oh. Oh.


Mab

There was no bargain. No exchange. No contract. It was a glamour. It was all a lie.


The Presenter

No. No, that can’t… The letter was fake?


Mab

Oh, the letter was real. The person who wrote it truly believed what they wrote. Otherwise Station would never have selected it. But it had been doctored – a powerful perception glamour, laid on at the most essential layer of reality.


The Presenter

And last year, when they infiltrated the studio? There was static then, too.


Mab

Oh, that was nothing special. Just a bit of magical ventriloquism – probably some unpaid intern sitting in a hotel room nearby holding a crystal up to the radio.


The Presenter

All their threats. All their power…

Mab

All fake! [giggles] I’m willing to bet the CEO didn’t even put the glamour on themselves. Very few people have what it takes to become truly proficient in that sort of thing. Chances are they just found some dusty old wizard looking to fund a research project and paid them to do it.

Which is what I think our dear listeners need to understand. [the mic bumps as she takes hold of it, leaning in to speak] Are you listening, listeners? The CEO is not special. They’re not clever or powerful or talented or scary – they’re just... rich. Meanwhile, I am all of the above and then some.


The Presenter

[laughing] Yes. Yes, you really are, aren’t you? [beat] Uh, thank you. That… That’s a comfort.

Mab

You’re welcome. Unrelated, I am in the market for some new gardening gloves?


The Presenter

Are you, indeed? Well, I’ll keep it in mind. Uh – purple, right?

Mab

Oh you are so cruel to me sometimes it is a wonder I don’t die!


[The Presenter laughs. The studio door opens]

The Presenter

Goodbye, Mab.


[Mab laughs as she leaves, the studio door closing behind her]


The Presenter

Uh, thank you for your patience during that interruption, listeners. I’m sure you can all agree, it certainly offered some food for thought.


Speaking of food, it’s time now for another edition of Cookery Corner. This week, we’re tackling food waste with ten simple recipes to use up leftover ichor, belladonna and fenny snake...


[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through piano music, a voice saying “-violent threats-”, pop music and a voice speaking Irish before fading out.


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

H.R. Owen

Episode One Hundred and Eight of Monstrous Agonies was written by H.R. Owen and performed by H.R. Owen and Elizabeth Plant.


Tonight's first letter was submitted by Ella K Smith, the second came from Art, and this week's advert was based on similar suggestions from bresisntthere and GhostyGoose. Thanks, friends.


If you’re enjoying the show, please consider supporting it on Patreon at patreon.com/monstrousagonies or make a one-off donation at ko-fi.com/hrowen. 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]

--END TRANSCRIPT--

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