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  • Writer's pictureH.R. Owen

Episode Seventy Two

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Monstrous Agonies E72S03 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Seventy Two.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through pop music, a voice saying “-we heard the minuet-”, more pop music, and a voice saying “-how tight pants are-” before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-on limbs that do not bend as they ought to. As they used to.

Next tonight, we return to our advice segment with letters and questions from you, our listening community.

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

The Presenter

You're listening to the Nightfolk Network, the UK's only dedicated radio service for the creature community.

[End background music]

The Presenter

Up first tonight, a listener wrestling with conflicted feelings.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I’ll get right to it, I think. I’ve been cursed! [laughs, then sighs] I know, I know, I should find a magic practitioner and get it reversed, but it’s not that simple. People generally refuse to enter my nest when I invite them. And I can’t just walk into town. It always leads to so much screaming, and insect spray, which is ridiculous! Count the bloody legs, thank you, not actually an insect! There’s also a chance a practitioner would refuse to help me, once they learned I ate the curser.

And now, before you start going on about ethical eating, I have tried substitutes. I have tried contracting local farmers for livestock, and if I could lure billionaires or landlords to my neck of the woods I really, really would! But none of it works! So I take what I can trap, which tends to be local wildlife, lost hikers, or wizards looking to steal… bits of me for potions.

This curse though, it’s a real pain! It’s made me… empathetic. [shudders] I can feel the emotions of the people I intend to eat. Uh. Well. Presumably it works on all people, come to think of it, but I don’t tend to meet folk I’m not planning to eat. I, uh, I-I I don't really, uh... Don’t get out much.

Honestly, it’s made me lose my appetite, feeling all their fear and panic. Even after my venom does its job and they're out for the count, now I feel... guilty. Although recently I haven't even been about to get that far. I’ve been letting people go! It’s practically unheard of for my genus to not eat something caught in our webs, and here I am, having let the last four go because I [mockingly] “felt bad”.

People make up a good portion of my diet. I can’t afford to miss many more meals! Any advice?

The Presenter (as themselves)

There are three elements to my advice here, listener, tackling each part of your problem in turn.

First, on lifting your curse. I hear the difficulties you're having finding a practitioner willing to look beyond your prior behaviour and come to meet with you. While I do believe it possible to find such a practitioner, it will take an investment of both time and money.

Regular posts on online advertising boards will help bring your situation to the attention of suitable practitioners. You will need to be honest about your nature and the fate of the person who cursed you, and offer generous compensation in return for the services you require. It will take time, but eventually I believe your offer will find a home.

In the meantime, however, you need to eat. My second piece of advice is to work on your own feelings about your diet. Ethical eating is a privilege enjoyed by those with the freedom to choose how, when, what, and whom they eat. You do not have that privilege. You have explored ethical alternatives, and found them legitimately unsuitable for your needs.

Listener, you have to come to terms with the reality of how your diet impacts the world and the people around you. This coming to terms is not about cultivating shame – far from it. Instead, you need to look at the situation head on, and accept it for what it is.

If you take life to sustain your own, it is right that you feel the weight of that. Not guilt, not shame, but respect for the life you've taken. You need to be able to stand by your decisions, and accept that you are making choices that are right for you, and necessary for your health and well-being, and that also result in other people being eaten.

On a practical note, a suggestion for the issue of your hyper-empathy disrupting your feeding. This may or may not appeal to you, listener, but have you considered seeking out volunteers?

There is much to be said about the... [sighs] fetishisation of liminal bodies and their functions, but the fact remains, there will be people out there more than willing to submit to this experience. Give it some thought. After all, you will be sharing their emotions during the... event. And only you can judge whether or not that's something with which you are comfortable. Good luck, listener.

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

The Presenter

Brought to you by Gregory's High-Lustre Polishing Cream, for glamorous gargoyles and gorgeous grotesques. Gregory's Polishing Cream – start every day with a clean slate. Proud members of the Nightfolk Network.

[End background music]

The Presenter

Our second letter is from a listener who... Hm! [laughs] A listener with a complaint to make.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

Who the hell do you think you are?! Seriously – where do you get off, huh? Sitting there all high and mighty, uttering your proclamations, passing judgement on whosoever happens to draw your ire this week.

Does it make you feel big, is that it? Sad little voice on the radio trying to make yourself look important, and the only way you can do it is by knocking other people down. I've known plenty of people like you in my time – people who never amounted to anything in their own lives, so they spend all their energy putting other people down to make themselves look good.

You just can't bear to see someone succeed, can you? I don't see the Nightfolk Network driving double digit revenue growth quarter after quarter. I don't see you on the cover of Time magazine! I don't even see you on the cover of the Radio Times.

I mean, who the hell are you? What have you ever contributed to society? The CEO gets more done before breakfast than you have your entire, pathetic life. [mockingly] Oh, you've got a little radio station, how cute! Call me when you've invested millions into technological advancements that are going to change the face of the world as we know it. Call me when you're the head of one of the biggest, most successful corporations in history!

Apocacorp was nothing before the CEO got involved. They took a measly, one-note, apocalypse intervention company struggling to stay relevant, and transformed it into a transnational family of companies working in more fields of industry than you can shake a stick at.

The CEO has vision. They see a better world and they have the guts and the sheer intelligence to make it a reality. And they do it while being a fashion icon, queer creature legend. No wonder you feel threatened.

The Presenter (as themselves)

The term “parasocial relationship” refers to a one-sided emotional investment wherein somebody feels a close bond with a celebrity or other figure in the media, despite having never met the person in question.

Indeed, the subject of these feelings of closeness often has no idea of the other person's existence, much less a personal relationship. Instead, the supposed connection is borne out of consumption by one party of media, including social media, created by or about the other.

Parasocial relationships themselves are not inherently harmful. Feeling a bond between an artist whose work has been important to you, or even simply indulging in that very ordinary desire to gossip about the lives of the wealthy and influential, these are not dangerous behaviours.

But there is a point at which such imagined relationships do become harmful. For example, when one's admiration of a media personality renders you unable to interpret criticism of that person – no matter how well-deserved – as a personal attack.

Or, indeed, when you feel moved to defend that person to their detractors as if they have personally contributed some great boon to your life, and not simply used their staggering personal wealth to, ah yes. Generate more personal wealth.

I think it rather unlikely that you will take any advice I care to give you, listener – in fact, I'd be surprised if you were listening to this programme at all. Nevertheless, Station has selected your letter for a reason. With the recent disruption to the selection process well behind us, I can only assume that reason is the same as it is for any of the letters selected for the programme – you need help. And that is, after all, what I am here for.

So, listener, I say to you with every ounce of love and care that I can muster: get a life. The CEO is not your friend. Apocacorp is not your friend. They don't care about you, they will not be impressed with your defence of their so-called honour. They want your money. That's all. They want your money, and they have curated a persona for you to attach yourself to in order to get it.

I know this attachment to the CEO and their magazine interviews and social media posts feels meaningful. It feels like it's connecting you to something bigger and more impressive than your day-to-day life. But that feeling is not rooted in reality.

Please, for your own sake, step back from this one-sided infatuation. The person you think you admire does not exist. Find a hobby, learn to paint, take a pottery class, volunteer in a charity shop, go to church – find something else, something real to give you that feeling of connection.

Concentrate on building real-world relationships – and your own self-worth. God knows you deserve better than that smarmy, slick-haired, self-important boor.

Now, with the weather growing cooler, we have some tips and tricks for keeping cold blood moving this winter, and fighting off the seasonal sluggishness...

[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through unintelligible speech, pop music, a voice saying “-mysteriously disappeared-”, more pop music, a voice saying over a crowd “-tell us what you bought, Ethel-” and static before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

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

Tonight's first letter was submitted by Art, and this week's advert came from DS9Polycule. Thanks, friends. Submissions are now closed for Season Three.

Hello and welcome to our latest supporter on Patreon, Thomas. 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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