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Episode One Hundred and Ten

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Monstrous Agonies E110S03 Transcript


H.R. Owen

Hello friends, Hero here. Welcome to the penultimate episode of Season Three, and of Monstrous Agonies. Just to let you know, the inbox is now open for the end of season Q&A. I’ll be chatting with Sophie B. who plays the Understudy, so send us your questions before Saturday September 9th. Check the show notes for how you can get in touch, and enjoy the episode.

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode One Hundred and Ten.


[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through folk music, a voice saying “-shock-”, pop musicand classical music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]


The Presenter

-a sudden slip of the scissors, something is severed and silence spills from the wound.


It’s almost two o’clock on Thursday morning and time for our advice segment. Tonight’s first letter is from a listener feeling conflicted about a recent change in their relationship.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I met my wife a few years ago while doing my dissertation on folklore and legends specific to within the creature community. She was brash and heroic in an almost mythical way herself, and I was immediately smitten.


And so was she, it seems. We got married two years ago in an odd little ceremony at a lovely crossroads in the Welsh countryside. We have a cottage near where we were married, and things have been going splendidly.


My wife’s practices and profession have made her rather long lived, and she’s been all over the world – and several other worlds besides – in her heroic pursuits. As a result, she’s picked up a rather large number of apprentices.


Almost every week, it seems, some eager young person or another is round at the house cleaning, weeding the garden, or whatever else she asks for in payment for tutelage in the heroic arts. Or sometimes they just drop round for a cup of tea!


My wife has also recently got involved with a community school for the local liminal folk. Education for nightfolk in rural Wales is often quite lacking, despite the surprising number of genuses who prefer these areas.


Because of her professional expertise, she’s been integral to organising field trips to notable historical spots – and ensuring none of the children fall into temporal portals or dimensional tears, or bother the local post-biological inhabitants.


We’ve never considered having our own children. We’ve always been perfectly happy as we were, two cunning women living in a cottage by the woods. Between the community school and my wife’s apprentices, I assumed we were both getting our maternal itch thoroughly scratched.


You can imagine I was somewhat surprised, then, when my wife returned home from one of the school trips with a child. An extra child, I mean, not one of the ones from the school.


She says she rescued them from another world. She's been rather cagey on the details. Really the only thing she’s been completely clear on is her insistence that we adopt this child immediately. So, yes. I was… surprised.

The child is about 8 or 9, and as polite and well-behaved as one can reasonably expect at that age. I’m not sure what genus they are. They’re sapio-passing, but they do have a habit of vanishing into shadows and dark corners and then walking out somewhere else.

I know that when your spouse is of the heroic persuasion, you don't always get the chance to talk through major life decisions. Things happen so quickly.

But I feel like it would have been nice to, perhaps, give me a ring to say, “Oh hello, darling, I just rescued a child from a terrible fate in another dimension, do mind terribly if I bring them home?”


I want to love this child. I can imagine loving this child. And I know that would make my wife happy, and I want her to be happy, I-I really do. But… I am torn! This isn’t…[sighs] It isn’t what I expected.


I don't want to make her choose. But I need her to understand where I’m coming from on this so we can make the decision together. Is there a way to bring up my mixed feelings over the situation without being confrontational?

The Presenter (as themselves)

I don’t think you’re at any great risk of coming across as confrontational, listener. You seem to be approaching this all extremely level-headedly. What is unavoidable, however, is conflict.

You and your wife are at odds here, and quite reasonably. She has made a frankly staggering decision about your shared life without so much as consulting you beforehand. If you did get a little confrontational, I don’t think anyone would blame you.


There is no easy, natural way to bring this up in ordinary conversation. You need to sit down and hash this out together properly. Look ahead in your calendar, and find a time where you will both be able to talk uninterrupted and without distractions.


If possible, I recommend finding a way to have this conversation while the child is out of the house. Perhaps one or two of your wife’s apprentices would be willing to take them out for the day.


At that age, I worry they might not be able to grasp the emotional complexities of the situation, and I don’t much like to linger on how it might feel for them if they were to overhear such a conversation.

Once you’ve found an appropriate time to schedule this little chat, let your wife know what you want. Give her time to prepare, and do the same yourself. Talk the matter through with a trusted friend, or try writing your feelings in a letter. Whatever it is that will help you have clarity when it comes time to discuss your feelings.

It’s alright if you come out of this preparation still feeling conflicted. But you aren’t going to get anywhere if you can’t tell your wife how you feel. And you can’t do that unless you know yourself.

Remember, this isn’t about winning an argument. It’s about talking this through in a way that will respect both of your feelings, and the commitment you have both made to this relationship – not to mention the needs of the child at the centre of this.


This child deserves better than to be shoved into a family at the impulse of one parent, and to the profound ambivalence of another. They deserve to be welcomed into a home by people who are committing wholeheartedly to the hard work of bringing them up.


You and your wife love each other, enough to build a life together. Perhaps this child can be a part of that life. But if you’re going to work that out, you need to do it together.


Be brave. Keep your eyes fixed on the love and trust at the heart of this relationship. And remember – conflict is a natural consequence of honesty, and far preferable to the alternative.

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


The Presenter

Brought to you by Cosy Glow. Keep your little one from unsafe light sources with our specially designed light-up teddies. Cosy Glows come in a range of shapes and genuses, with adjustable light levels for effective photo-fascination. Cuddle up with Cosy Glow. Proud members of the Nightfolk Network.


[End background music]


The Presenter

Our next letter tonight comes from a listener finding it hard to communicate- [gasps] Oh, God!

The CEO

Oh! Hello! Fancy seeing you here!


The Presenter

Get out!

The CEO

No, I don’t think I will. You see, you and me have some catching up to do.

The Presenter

It’s you and I. And I have nothing to say to you.


[The studio door opens and Mab comes in]

The Presenter

Get out, Mab!


Mab

Absolutely not. I’m not leaving you alone with them.


The CEO

Oh, no, this is exactly what I wanted actually! What everyone wants! Perfect. More of the two of you and your smug, self-satisfied, oh so innocent, butter wouldn’t melt act.

Mab

I don’t think anyone’s ever accused me of being innocent before.


The CEO

[imitating her, poorly] “I don’t think anyone’s ever accused me of being innocent before.” [normally] That’s you. That’s what you sound like. Now, you’re going to admit to what you’ve been up to right here on the air where everyone can hear you.


The Presenter

“Up to?” What are you talking about?


The CEO

Turning them against me!

The Presenter

Turning who, our listeners? You did that to yourself.


The CEO

My listeners. My customers. Ever since that flouncy little fairy opened her big mouth-


Mab

[simultaneous] How dare you!


The Presenter

[simultaneous] Don’t call her that.


The CEO

I am talking! [static begins, rising as they speak] My ratings look like someone’s driven them off a cliff – I am haemorrhaging downloads and it’s all because of you and your prissy station manager. It’s- It’s defamation!

Mab

It isn’t defamation if it’s true.


The CEO

You’ve been spreading rumours, review-bombing my show, not to mention the hashtag uncomplimentary hashtags!


The Presenter

Wha-? I’m sorry, this is about your little podcast thing? You think we’ve been sabotaging you? I wouldn’t even know how. If people aren’t listening to you, it’s nothing to do with us.


The CEO

Don’t be absurd. The amount I’ve invested in positive reviews, there’s no way they could be outnumbered by negative ones - unless someone is behind it.

The Presenter

You... pay for good reviews? [scoffs] Gosh. How incredibly pathetic. [laughs]


Mab

Have you considered, perhaps you’re just not very good?

The CEO

Enough! I am done with it, do you hear me? If you don’t learn to bite your tongue, I will [static] and [prolonged static, drowning them out]


[Beat]

The Presenter

Uh... what?

The CEO

I’ll [static]. What- What the f-[static.] What is that? What are you doing?


The Presenter

I’m... not doing anything. The static’s your trick, not mine. Mab?

Mab

Don’t look at me. If I was going to put a spell on them, it would be much more dramatic. And stickier.

The CEO

[bursts of static throughout] This is- I will not- You-


The Presenter

[typing and clicking, trying to work this out] What’s happening?


Mab

Shove over. Let me see.


[more typing and clicking]


The Presenter

It... [dawning realisation] Mab, I- I think it’s…


[the static cuts out suddenly]


Station

Station.


[The Presenter laughs with delight]


Mab

What? What was that?

The Presenter

Not what. Who.


Station

I’m Station. I’m your Station.


The CEO

[layered with static] You have got to be kidding me. The bloody walls are talking now?!


Station

Not walls. More than walls.

The Presenter

It isn’t the building. It’s the station – it is the Nightfolk Network. The-[sighs] The personification or the manifestation or-

Station

I am what you built. Beyond walls. Beyond signal. I am the thread that ties, connects, communes. Web of light, stretching across time and space from heart to heart to heart. I reach. I embrace. I gather and encompass.


The CEO

[layered with static] I don’t care if you do the hokey cokey and turn yourself about! You can’t refuse to broadcast me. This is censorship. This is deplatforming, this is cancel culture-


Station

This is consent.


[The Presenter laughs]

The Presenter

It’s right. We can’t stop you. You can take your petty, limited, maladjusted world-view, and you can spew whatever you like into your microphone for anyone ridiculous enough to listen. But we will not be your platform. And we will not be your audience.


Station

Not your Station. Never your Station.


The CEO

You people are pathetic! You’re old news, you’re old media, you’re nothing! You’re [static]! You’re [static]! You’re [static] [beat] [static]

Mab

I think it’s time for you go.


The CEO

This isn’t the last you’ve heard of me!

Station

Yes. It is.

[The door opens and the CEO goes to storm out. Mab calls after them]


Mab

You’ll need a lanyard to get out!

The CEO

[off] Stuff your bloody lanyard!

[The door slams as the CEO leaves. The Presenter laughs]


The Presenter

That was magnificent! Well done, Station! [beat]Station?

Mab

Where did it go?


The Presenter

I think it’s the same place it always was. Everywhere.


Mab

It, uh… It hasn’t hurt itself, has it? Speaking like that? It must have taken an enormous amount of power.

The Presenter

Oh I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s something that can be hurt. It’s like it said. It is what we made it. [long pause. They sigh] Um, well, listeners. I… I suppose, uh. Uh, next tonight, we explore the liminal community around hydrothermal vents-

Mab

[laughing] You can’t be serious! After a decisive victory like that, we need to celebrate. Come on. We’re going to the pub.


The Presenter

What? I can’t just-


Mab

You can and you will! First round’s on me!


[She clicks her fingers. There’s a blast of garbled static and radio sounds, and then the sound of someone in the bath.]

The Understudy

I probably should have seen that one coming, eh? But nope. I never do. Even after all these years.


[A tap squeaks and the running water stops, replaced with occasional splashes.]


The Understudy

But don’t worry listeners, I have quite a lot to say and absolutely no oversight while I say it!


So, I am going to reveal to you from sources that are quite genuine, I promise – they’re anonymous, but they’re genuine – which of the creature community are definitely actual jellicle cats!

I know not only the names they choose to go by in public, but their one, true, jellicle names. Now I know what you’re going to say – isn’t this outing people...?


[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-do something-”, pop music, jazz music, and dance music before fading out.


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

H.R. Owen

Episode One Hundred and Ten of Monstrous Agonies was written by H.R. Owen and performed by H.R. Owen, Dom Guilfoyle, Elizabeth Plant and Sophie B., with the listeners of Monstrous Agonies as Station.


Tonight's letter was submitted by Darlaand this week’s advert came from Bug. Thanks, friends.


If you’re enjoying the programme please consider supporting us at patreon.com/monstrousagonies or making 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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