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  • Writer's pictureH.R. Owen

Episode Seventy

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Monstrous Agonies E70S02 Transcript

H.R. Owen

Hello friends, Hero here, popping in to remind you to get your questions in for the end of season Q&A where I’ll be chatting with Sophie B., who plays the Understudy. Whether you’ve got burning questions about characters, plot, how the programme’s made, or just want to know what Sophie and I think of your favourite sandwich filling, send in your questions by email, on social media or through the website. See the show notes for more details. Enjoy the episode, and see you next week for the season finale.

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

Sophie B.

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Seventy.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through a voice speaking Irish, folk music and a voice saying “-getting a little bit of applause-”before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Understudy

-and have become aware of the important role that media plays in the well-being and self-actualisation of those individuals who enjoy marginalised identities. I have attached a comprehensive financial overview of our offer, and look forwards to hearing from you soon.

Oh, thank Christ, that's the last one! Backlog: obliterated. Obligation: fulfilled. Dullest week of my life: finally over. I would pop some champagne but I'm pretty sure the Presenter would have my eyes if I got bubbly all over their equipment.

If you're listening, Prez – I hope that helps! Feel better soon! Really, really soon. I would [laughing] really, really, really like to not being doing this just as soon as you can get your arse back in the studio. And, you know... I don't want you all sad and headachey any more. Anyone ever tell you, you're a lousy patient? Talk about moody.

Right! Moving on, it's time for- Oh, you're kidding me! I just read all those letters out, I hate this bit!

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

The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network – broadcasting all the time for all time.

[End background music]

The Understudy (as themselves)

It's time for the advice segment. My favourite... [sighing] First letter is giving me... Hmm. Well, it's family. P-parenting, I think? And... Ooh, feels a bit frantic! Best get on with it, eh?

The Understudy (as First Letter Writer)

Hi! [nervous laugh] hope this letter's okay to send. I’m trying to reach out to someone more than get advice. ‘Course, I could use any advice you could give me, I’m running out of ideas.

Bit of context: I’m just finishing my PhD researching a new way to generate unique organic neural networks that’ll self-integrate into the host organism. I’m not one to half-arse things so once I got it working I decided to use my technique to make a human. My technique, some generously donated body parts, and a good deal of thread that is.

As you might imagine, the ethics board took a lot of convincing, but I was determined. And I know what you might be thinking: creating life isn’t something you do just for uni, it’s a commitment, and I know. This wasn’t just a science experiment. This was me becoming a... well, a parent. And I was ready for it!

So, it’s the big day, except there were a few setbacks so it’s actually the big wee hours of the morning and everything’s ready to wake my project up. And I did. It worked.

But by this point I was seven energy drinks in and the caffeine was waging war on my guts! As my project sat up I had to sprint to the loo. Almost didn’t make it. Wasn’t exactly the welcome I had planned.

When I got back to the lab he’d... gone. He. They? Gods. I don’t even know my own kid’s pronouns. What sort of a parent am I? Literally ran out on them the first time they looked at me. Probably thought I was abandoning them.

I’ve been searching for them since. I’ve not slept. I’ve not eaten. I can’t, not until I know they’re safe.

So yeah, if you’re hearing this: I didn’t mean to leave you. Please, come back, or reach out, or... anything.

Well. Thank you, for reading this. And I guess a pre-emptive thanks for any advice you can give me.

The Understudy (as themselves)

W... Wow. You messed this up about as much as it is physically possible to mess something up! [laughing] Sorry, I know I should probably say something like, [impersonating the Presenter] “Oh, listener, you're being too hard on yourself.” But honestly, I'm just impressed. Way to go. 10/10, you are truly The Worst. Bravo!

So, first up, I think you know what I'm going to say. Ease off the energy drinks, yeah? Seriously, there's no shame in having a nap. Better to miss a deadline than to do yourself a mischief because you're knackered – or, you know, accidentally abandon your giant baby because you were in the throes of gastrointestinal distress.

As for finding your creation, not sure what we can do about that to be honest. Hopefully this will have got the word out? Listeners, if you've seen a big patchwork revenant wandering about the place looking lost, perhaps let them know there's been a mix-up.

Otherwise, pal, I don't really think there's much you can do that you aren't already doing. I do think you should probably get some sleep and, you know, eat something? You'll be no use to anyone if you keel over in the street while you're searching.

Besides, why do you have to do this on your own? There must be people you can ask for help. Well, obviously there's us, but like... People people. On the ground, so to speak. If there's a creature-friendly news outlet in your area, they might be able to help you out. Do make sure it's creature-friendly though – you do not want people putting the wrong spin on this and potentially putting your kid in danger.

Uh, so... Yeah. That's about it, I think. Get some rest, and ask for help. And, to mimic everyone's favourite radio host when they blatantly don't know what else to say but don't want to admit it: [impersonating the Presenter] good luck, listener. [laughs]

We'll get to the second letter after the ad. Have to say, the quality of both post-it and handwriting upon said post-it has improved markedly since the last time I did this. Not sure literally everything needs to be written in pink glitter ink, but hey – at least it's legible. And leg it, I shall!

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

The Understudy

Presenting! Subsonic Sounds – audio solutions for ultimate comfort and adaptability. Specially designed for audio-sensitive biologies and neurologies, our state of the art noise-cancelling devices protect against more frequencies than any other brand on the market, from the infrasonic to the ultrasonic. Subsonic Sounds – proud members of the Nightfolk Network.

[End background music]

The Understudy

Phew, we are cracking through it tonight! Next letter is... Ugh. Urgh! Ableism. Well, that leaves just a terrible taste in the mouth, doesn't it. Hopefully I can do something to help with that. Here we go.

The Understudy (as Second Letter Writer)

So, you had a letter a few weeks ago from someone with rigor mortis, and about how their family wasn't used to it yet and all that? Well, I kind of have the opposite problem.

I only recently became a member of the nightfolk community, and OK, so the adjustment has been a bit odd. But that isn’t my real issue. You see, prior to my turning, I was disabled – a wheelchair user, in fact. But the nature of my new genus means I no longer need the chair. If I want to get around the place, I can walk now, or run, or levitate – whatever I like.

My parents have been really okay about it. More than okay. Nobody in our family or social circles are creatures of the night as far as we’re aware, so I’m honestly really impressed with how my mothers have taken the news.

It’s like they’ve been helpful to a fault, though. My mum keeps saying she’s so happy I’m able to enjoy life properly now, which feels microaggressive in a way I’m not sure how to express to her. And my other mother has been overjoyed and planning all sorts of activities I wasn’t able to do before, and telling all our relatives I’m “fine” now.

I’ve been pulled into a whirlwind of new faces and relatives who suddenly want to know everything about me and it’s all just so aggravating! Yes, I’m happy my extended family is okay with my new identity but I’m so conflicted. I mean, I didn't just spring into existence.

These people didn’t give a damn about me before I was turned. But now I can pass as an able-bodied sapio, and they all want to be in my life. It’s like people only care about me now I meet their definition of “normal”. It feels like everyone in my life is dismissing my past experiences, as if they don't count because I wasn't... what they wanted me to be.

And then there's my mothers both placing so much emphasis on how excited they are to be able to do different activities with me now. No, not just excited. Relieved. As if my entire life before now wasn't full enough, or rich enough, or interesting enough.

I just don’t know how to feel about any of it. I guess I just want to know if you have any advice for me?

The Understudy (as themselves)

OK, so, first of all: your family sucks! [laughing] They're being super disrespectful and ableist and you don't have to put up with it. I just don't want you thinking that you're being unreasonable for taking umbrage with this kind of behaviour, alright? You deserve better!

You're not a different person now than you were when you were disabled. At least, no more than we're all different people, all the time from one minute to the next as the endless shifting of the universe carries us ever forwards from the already-decaying past and into ceaseless present and all that.

My point is that past you is still you. And you deserve respect. You deserved it then, and you deserve it now. Your extended family didn't to want the privilege of knowing you while you were disabled – why should they get that same privilege now?

Stick up for yourself – both your selves, past and present. Tell your mothers how their behaviour makes you feel. I don't believe they want to hurt you, but they're living in an ableist world and perpetuating ableist ideas. They need told!

As for the rest of your family, I don't see why you have to spend any time with them at all, to be honest. They haven't built up a relationship with you, they haven't shown you any reason to want them in your life and, speaking frankly, I just don't really like them that much.

Tell your mothers you won't be spending time with the rest of them, and stick to it. Save your energy for people who actually care about you – who have always cared about you.

And that's us! Oh, what a relief. Hopefully, with those Apocacorp letters finished, we'll be back to something a bit more normal pretty soon. That's assuming we have any listeners left after an entire week broadcasting that garbage! But needs must, and at least we're back to normal now.

Speaking of which, it's time for... Let me check the schedule... Aw, book club! I never get to do book club! I, uh, I haven't read anything but those bloody letters all week though. Um.

Alright! Alright. I'll just chat for a bit about a book I know off by heart and recommend everyone and their nan's picks up from the library as soon as they possibly can, best book in the world, it'll make you laugh, it'll make you cry, it is of course, Jellicle Cats Come Out Tonight: Queerness in the Jellicle Genus, written by Magical Mister Mistoffelees...

[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through pop music, inaudible speech, a voice saying “-it's three in the morning-” and choral music before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

Episode Seventy of Monstrous Agonies was written by H.R. Owen and performed by Sophie B.

Tonight's first letter was submitted by Art, the second letter came from Moon, and this week's advert came from Glow. Thanks, friends. Submissions are now closed for this season, but will reopen ahead of Season Three.

Big hello to our latest supporter on Patreon, Daisy! 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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