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Episode Seventy Five

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Monstrous Agonies E75S03 Transcript


H.R. Owen

Hello friends, Hero here. Just a heads up that this week's second letter contains discussion of cults and religious trauma. Keep yourselves safe, and enjoy the episode.


[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]


H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Seventy Five.


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


The Presenter

-dress for the land access you deserve, not the land access you have.

Time now for our weekly advice segment.


[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.

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The Presenter

Tonight's first letter is from a listener concerned they've been deceiving people.


The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

So the thing is, I’m sapio. And I’m not sure how to say this, but like… A lot of people tend to think I’m a member of the creature community? I'm not sure why – I don't look that different than other sapios, unless it's just a vibe I give off? But for whatever reason, people sort of make the assumption that I’m not, even my friends who actually are creatures.

I’m not offended. It’s more that I feel guilty, like I’ve done something wrong. I’ve never claimed to be a member of the creature community or done anything to imply that I am, as far as I remember.


I care a lot about topics pertaining to the creature community, but I have never experienced the particular joys and struggles of being a person of the night. When people make the assumption that I have, I feel like I’m invading a space where I-I don’t belong.


A few days ago, one of my closest friends was telling me about how out of place she feels as one of the only visible non-sapios in our workplace. And she said something like, “I mean, really, you, me, and (our co-worker) are the only creatures in the office.” I had to interrupt her to tell her that I’m not, actually.

We- We didn’t discuss it again. I'm worried I e-embarrassed her. We’ve been friends for years, and apparently that whole time she thought I’m someone I’m not. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, but it got me really thinking about it. I worry that my friends who are part of the community trust me in ways I don’t deserve.


I listen to them talk about things they’re struggling with, They’re my friends, after all. But I worry that they trust me with things they wouldn't trust me with if they knew I was sapio.


How can I make it clear that I can’t personally relate to my friends’ experiences while also making sure they still feel safe and comfortable sharing with me?


The Presenter (as themselves)

I don't think you have anything to feel guilty about, listener. You can't possibly be held responsible for the assumptions other people make about you, or for their failure to investigate those assumptions.


It is generally frowned upon to assume a person's genus. But when one finds oneself living at odds with established societal norms, one learns the importance of quickly identifying those people who might be able to offer comfort, support, and solidarity. Often this identification rests on the assumption that the line between safe and unsafe is identical to the line between same and un-same.

It's true that many creatures find support and understanding comes more easily from other creatures than from sapios. The prevalence of single-genus or creature-only social groups can attest to that, and I see no harm in them. But it simply does not follow that being a member of the community means someone will be inherently safer, or indeed, inherently able to relate to one's particular circumstances.


Your friends put their trust in you, and I don't see that you've done anything to undermine that trust, or to prove it ill-placed. You listen to their struggles, and care about the issues that affect them.

You respect their identities, and the differences between your experiences of the world. You don't need to share those experiences in order to be able to offer them kindness and support when they talk about them.


If you wish to tell your friends about your identity, feel free. The incident with your co-worker offers a nice jumping off point – you can use it to bring the matter up and explain your desire to set the record straight. Equally though, I don't see any pressing moral need to do so.


Your friends consider you someone safe to be with in their difference. And in that, it seems they are perfectly correct. Whatever your decision, I hope you can come to trust yourself as much as your friends do.


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


The Presenter

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[End background music]


The Presenter

Our second letter this evening is from a listener facing an unexpected obstacle in their relationship.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

So, here’s the thing. I’m supposed to... start the apocalypse? I-I swear I’m not writing in because I’m actually debating ending all life on Earth. That is a solid no from me! [laughs]


I was raised in a, a, a… Well, you know what, I’m just going to call it what it was. A bloody cult. [laughs] Been through enough therapy for that. [sighs]


They had this prophecy that just before the year 2000, a Messiah would be born to their chosen few, and have power to remake the world to their choosing. So, that’s how I came to be. My mum lived, uh, but I’m- I'm told she was never quite the same afterwards. A disturbing amount of teeth, and eyes that glowed too fiercely.


Skip through many, many years of religious trauma and magic beyond understanding, and you’ve got 18 year old me, who has decided that I’d like to see this world that everybody wants me to change anew.


It went really well, honestly. I nearly passed out from all of the noise, but once I got used to that, it was, uh, pretty amazing! [laughs] There were so many people, and so many new things to try! After a couple more visits I realised actually, I didn’t want to destroy it all.


Wow, was the Church not happy when I brought it up! [laughs, then sighs] Let’s just say it took me months to escape after that. But I did, and I’ve lived a relatively normal life for years now. I have friends. I figured out I was non-binary. I have a regular order at my local coffee shop – a hazelnut coffee, with a cherry Danish, thanks. I started dating, even!


But that’s the problem. [sighs] I’ve been seeing this guy for a bit now – about, uh, 4 months. We met at the local Creature Alliance chapter and hit it off instantly. He’s lovely – funny, kind, has the correct opinions on Doctor Who. [laughs] I can’t count the number of times he’s made me keel over laughing. And he has the most... [sighs] gorgeous green eyes, and fur that’s incredibly thick and smooth, and…

Uh. [clears throat] Sorry! I- I should stay on topic. Uh. I really like him, is the gist of it. But we decided to take the, uh, physical next step in our relationship recently, and while we were in the throes, so to speak, I… lost control of my powers.

And before you say that losing control is a [impersonating the Presenter] perfectly normal reaction, [normal voice] I’ve had other partners. Not many, it’s true, but I’ve had them! We’ve done the same things that I was doing with this guy, and I didn’t lose control then. So obviously, I panicked and ran out, grabbing on my way the, uh, pot plant that I’d accidentally given way too many eyes.


The thing is, another part of the prophecy was that I, the Lock, would need the Key to truly start the apocalypse, as they would unleash my powers in a way that I could never do alone.

I remember that the cult was always annoyed by that part, as the prophecy also stated that the Key would be an ordinary person that could not be born to the Church. Only the Lock could find them.


I figured since I wouldn’t be looking for this Key, I wouldn’t need to worry about fulfilling the prophecy, and I could just be normal, and maybe even happy? But, um... [sighs] Well, seems I’ve found him anyway. [frustrated noise]


I don’t want to break up with him. He’s wonderful, and it doesn’t seem fair to him that we’d end it for, from his point of view, no reason. But I won’t want to live up to the expectations of the Church. I won't. Especially because I don’t want the whole bloody world to end! I like the world!

Am I being selfish if I choose to stay with him? What do I do here? Please… please help.

The Presenter (as themselves)

First of all, listener, I want to congratulate you on your escape. You have done extremely well to extricate yourself from this cult's clutches and to make good progress in unlearning the lies they told as they raised you. Well done.


There is one point of their indoctrination that still seems to have some power, though. That is the idea that you and your circumstances are unique. Isolating their victims is a tactic used by all abusers, whatever the nature of their abuse.


But we are none of us as alone as those who wish us harm would have us believe. Not only are you not the first couple to face this issue – there is in fact a thriving industry built around the circumvention of just such catastrophes.


And unlike our old friends at Apocacorp, there are several apocalypse intervention businesses that remain committed to the well-being of their customers rather than their share-holders, who can help facilitate the coming apocalypse – excuse the innuendo – in a safe, life-preserving manner.


At any given moment, somewhere in the universe, a world is ending. Toppling over the event horizon of a black hole, shuddering with the shockwaves of a cataclysmic impact, engulfed in flames, swallowed by the dark or by the things that live in the dark. There are endless endings, and these companies know precisely where and when these ends will come.


Tell your partner about the nature of your situation. Then, book yourselves in for a transdimensional round trip and get to work fulfilling that prophecy just as many times as you like, safe in the knowledge that you're not so much destroying a world as you are adding a little more dynamite to an already condemned building.


It may feel a little awkward to have to plan your sex life in this way. But many couples actually benefit from intentionally setting time aside in which to be intimate. Think of it as booking a night in a hotel in order to enjoy the freedom to really let yourselves go without having to worry about tidying up the mess in the morning.


Finally, forgive me if this next point is unwarranted, but I can't help but note that the language of your predicament is rather... evocative. The, uh, Lock and Key metaphor in particular.


At the risk of being over-literal in my interpretation, might there be value in exploring alternative configurations with your partner? Perhaps you might take the role of the Key and he the Lock. Or you could explore ways of being intimate that forgo such metaphors entirely. There are plenty of options you might enjoy.


And if you really can't find a compromise, well – there's nothing a quick trip to Xylon 7's meteor shower district can't fix.


Next on the Nightfolk Network, with Hallowe'en just around the corner, we count down our top tips for resisting the sapio commercialisation of this important festival...


[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through dance music, a voice saying “-two storey houses-”, a voice saying “-is uh, a dreadful-”, unintelligible speech and pop music before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

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


Tonight's first letter came from Ed, the second was by Ella, and this week's advert was submitted by Caw-oticdork. Thanks, friends.


If you'd like to support the programme, you can sign up for a monthly pledge 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]


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