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  • Writer's pictureH.R. Owen

Episode One Hundred and Nine

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Monstrous Agonies E109S03 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode One Hundred and Nine.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through dance music, a voice saying “-best time of my life-”, pop music, a voice saying “-some of which will be prevented-” and rock music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-like a horse, but with finger-clusters instead of hooves. You know the type.

If you’ve just tuned in, you’re listening to the Nightfolk Network where we’re about to start our weekly advice segment. Tonight’s first letter comes from a listener facing some obstacles in their career.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I have to start by saying, I am a huge fan of your work! The Nightfolk Network has been a major chord in the soundtrack of my life for as long as I can remember.

I’ve sort of always wanted to write in, but never had anything to ask. But now, I do! And you’re particularly great for this specific problem, because it all started because, well… I want to be you when I grow up [laughs]

Really, I have so many questions for you. How did you get your start in radio, what do you recommend I do to get mine, are there any pitfalls you recommend I avoid, what do you think are the best qualities in a radio host – I could go on and on and on! [laughs]

But you have other letters to answer! So, I’ll make this short. I’m doing media studies at university – radio focused, naturally – and something I’m really hoping to do, something I should get the opportunity to do as part of my degree, is host a radio show.

The uni actually has its own station. They do a local broadcast and there’s time slots for different student-run shows throughout the week. Sounds simple, right? Just get a slot on there! Yeah. [sighs] Not so much.

You see, I’m a siren. And, as I’m sure you know, there are a lot of misconceptions about us. Sure, I do have a few aunties who spend their days hanging out on rocks at sea singing prophesies, but personally I’m only semi-aquatic, and I’ve never drowned anyone. Not seriously.

But I do have the siren gift for persuasion. I’ll express a strong opinion while I’m out with my friends, and they’ll all immediately agree with me – and then look at one another, look at me, and I realise I’ve accidentally compelled them.

As I’ve got older, I have gained a lot of control of my power, and in most cases, I just apologise and we laugh it off. But when I get passionate about something, sometimes I can still lose some of that control.

I’m practising every day, every time I speak, to avoid compelling my listeners. Even in those rare times when I’m excited and I slip up, I can course correct pretty quickly.

But speaking over the radio, potentially to a lot of listeners, is really untested grounds. I’ve never done it before. As far as I know, no siren ever has.

And that’s assuming the student radio station will even let me on the air. I can understand why they might not. But being on the radio is my dream! And I’ll never know if it’s possible until I get a chance to try.

How do I convince my university radio station to take a chance on a siren host? And, just as importantly, how do I minimise the risk that putting my voice on the air could pose to my listeners?

The Presenter (as themselves)

Thank you for your kinds words, listener. It’s always lovely to hear that people are enjoying our broadcasting, and especially so if it’s inspired you to pursue your own creative endeavours.

To your first question, I think you may be jumping the gun a little. You don’t know yet that the student radio service will have any objections to your presenting a segment. It may be perfectly alright.

I see no reason why you should have to disclose your genus to them at all. I think it very unlikely they ask the genus of every student hoping to broadcast on the station.

If they try to make an exception for you, that’s discrimination, pure and simple. Read up on your university’s formal complaints process and be prepared to take action as necessary.

The second question is a little more pressing – how to control your abilities under emotionally stimulating circumstances. Scripting your show beforehand would certainly help you to avoid any accidental slips, and a good deal of practice will help too.

I think another aspect to pursue would be to make the actual act of broadcasting a little less daunting, so that when it comes time for you to go live, you’re not adding to your already jangling nerves.

As well as presenting roles, I expect your university’s station also has opportunities to volunteer behind the scenes. This is a wonderful way for you to demystify the broadcasting process, gain some experience and confidence in the studio, and learn some more about the medium you love.

Finally, a word of reassurance. You’ve already done extremely well to gain such control over your powers. I see no reason why, with a little determination and hard work, you shouldn’t be more than capable of overcoming this difficulty.

Stick with it, work hard, and who knows – perhaps in a few more years, you’ll be giving me a run for my money.

[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 comes from a listener trying to protect their privacy.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

I come from a pretty isolated genus. I’m not actually certain others of my kind even exist. Sapios only typically know of me if they have a special interest in cryptozoology. Which suits me just fine. I have no interest in becoming “Instagram famous”.

For thousands of years, I was perfectly happy to live my life quietly in the mountains of Colorado, feasting on deer and trees. And then the gold rush happened.

I assumed that, like past human migrations, it would have little effect on me. But, alas, some human named Joseph Something Or Other set up a “get rich quick” mining supplies shop right at the base of my mountain.

For context, I feed by hooking my tail onto the top of the mountain, and thanks to the lubrication my body provides, I’m able to slide down with an open maw and swallow whatever is in my path.

Once that’s done, I climb back up and the cycle starts again. And, similar to, uh, I think it’s called “sledding”? Well, I don’t exactly have much ability to steer as I go.

So, yeah, a few people – and one very hard-on-the-digestive tract building – got eaten. I don’t even like human. It’s just a bonier, significantly more uppity, version of pig.

So, what Joseph do? Does he – in fear and awe of a natural phenomenon who has been here for millennia and will be here for millennia more – make the reasonable decision to buzz off somewhere unoccupied?

Of course not. He decides that my mountain would be a perfect place to build, of all things, an orphanage. You can guess what happened.

And hey, if humans take offence to a few of the big ones going missing, they downright hate when the little ones end up as a snack. And when sapios hate something, they bring out their little toys. Oh, [scoffs] I’m sorry. I mean “weapons”.

They didn’t have much effect obviously, piddly things that they are. But I had some pretty uncomfortable bruises.

When the guns didn’t do the job, Joseph finally left. But naturally, he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. I mean, I have to assume he was telling people it was dangerous. Surely any potential new settlers or even looky-loos would be discouraged. And yet! [sighs] And yet.

I don’t know what runs through the sapio mind, but somehow “you will be eaten if you stay here” has turned me not into something to fear and avoid but a curiosity to be gawked at.

And then, when a hiker does get eaten, they turn around and are shocked, shocked I tell you! Shocked and appalled! I mean, the writing has been on the wall for literally centuries. You’d think they’d be able to read it by now!

You’ve obviously had more experience with sapios than I have. So, from one member of the community to another, how do I get them to leave me alone, to the benefit of all of us?

The Presenter (as themselves)

I’m afraid I may be of limited help to you here, listener. While it’s always a pleasure to hear from our listeners around the world, I am not an expert in liminal legislation even here in the UK, much less international law.

You’ll have to tailor your approach according to what protections you have as an American – or, as I understand legislation can vary drastically from state to state, as a Coloradan.

Here, you would very likely be legally considered an isolated genus, and thus have rights to non-contact with sapios. These rights protect liminal ways of life that would be threatened by sapio involvement.

Another area of liminal legislation that might offer some protection would be environmental. You are from an extreme minority genus. Possibly you are the only surviving member. You might be able to have your home mountain declared a protected area on these grounds.

I’m afraid you will have to do your own research into the particulars. I recommend reaching out to legal advocacy groups for support. If you’re not sure where to start, try your local library.

I understand that attending in person may not be feasible. But knowing librarians, if you were to write them a letter explaining the situation, I’m sure they’d do their best to find the information you need.

Finally, I know you didn’t mention this option but I understand if you feel tempted to respond to sapio infringement on your privacy by, uh, living up to their expectations, shall we say. I must counsel against this, and not only for legal reasons.

As you’ve seen, you benefit not at all from a reputation from fierceness. If anything, that sort of thing only makes certain sapios more determined to stick their nose into your business.

Keep your head down, carry on living life as you always have, and work on finding a more long-term solution.

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

The Presenter

You're listening to the Nightfolk Network – broadcasting all the time, for all time.

[End background music]

The Presenter

Up next, we’re taking things to the bedroom as we discuss the best toys and trinkets for mixed corporeality couples, from vaporous vibrators to phasmic bondage gear...

[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through pop music, a voice saying “-to keep their promises-”, classical music, and rock music before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

Episode One Hundred and Nine of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.

Tonight's first letter was submitted by Leslie, the second came from nat-20s, the advert was based on an idea from Jace and this week’s sign-off was inspired by a suggestion from Reggie Kim. Thanks, friends.

Hello and welcome to our latest supporters on Patreon, Jessica and Athena. Join them at You can also make a one-off donation at, 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]


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