• H.R Owen

Episode Six

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Episode Six


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Monstrous Agonies E06S01 Transcript


[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]


H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Six.


[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through static, a pop song, and a voice saying, “-lost to us-” before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]


The Presenter

-indistinguishable from a human tooth.


The time is 1.50AM on Thursday morning. I'll be answering listener's questions in our weekly advice segment next, after this word from our sponsor.


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


The Presenter

Brought to you in association with Captain Helga's Crunchy Bits – for kids who crunch!


[End background music]


The Presenter

Tonight's first letter asks how to deal with a potentially difficult houseguest.


The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

For many years now, I have lived some distance away from my oldest and

dearest friend. We write to each other often, and have remained very close despite the physical distance.


Every few years one of us makes the journey to visit the other. Usually, I go to hers. She has a beautiful home in what I'm sure she wouldn't mind me calling the middle of nowhere! I've always loved visiting her – she gives such a warm welcome, and it's a joy to have her as my guide as we explore her favourite haunts.


Her visits to me are less frequent, since travel is difficult for her. I do enjoy having her to stay. I enjoy having her close. There is really nothing to beat the delightful intimacy of sharing space with someone you love. It always surprises me how quickly we fall into rhythm with one another, fitting into each other's routines like we were never away.


Unfortunately, whenever it comes time for to me play hostess, I cannot help my feelings of dread. My friend has a great many requirements that must be met before she is able to be comfortable, and I struggle with the enormity of the task each time. As soon as we start making plans for her to visit, I begin to get overwhelmed by the preparations I will have to make.


There are certain rituals that must be performed to initially prepare the space. The windows and mirrors must all be thoroughly and securely covered. A great many items must be removed from the house entirely, including a number of door handles which have iron components.


While she's staying with me, we must rely on candles for light, and have no refrigeration whatsoever. The effect she has on electronics is hardly her fault, but nevertheless it is something of a nuisance.


Her dietary requirements are also extremely limiting. She has such a number of prohibited herbs and spices that every meal must be cooked from scratch lest something finds its way past the manufacturer's label.


To be clear, it's not the cooking that bothers me – I often find the slower pace of things rather soothing, not to mention how lovely it is to take time and care over the meals we share.


Indeed, for all these matters, the effort of undertaking the tasks is only a secondary issue. At the foremost of my discomfort is fear. Fear that I will do something wrong and inadvertently hurt the person who has, for many years, occupied the largest portion of my heart.


I am so afraid, and so anxious, and that anxiety quite ruins the anticipation of her arrival. But I know that she takes such pains to come and see me.


I want more than anything for her to be comfortable and safe, and I'm sure if I ever mentioned it to her she'd be appalled to think that her visits occasioned anything but happiness.


How can I commit to having her as a houseguest without running myself ragged?


The Presenter (as themselves)

I don't think you can, listener. There is nothing you or your friend can do to make her visits to your home less disruptive. There's no compromise I can think of. I find it very unlikely she would be able to find a hotel you or she would feel confident entrusting with her safety.


I want to address the difference between finding these accommodations a “nuisance,” and your fear of causing harm. If there are things, like going without electricity, that you simply find annoying about your friend's visits, you need to keep that annoyance to yourself and work quietly on letting it go.


These are accommodations your friend lives with every day, and are a prerequisite to having her physically in your life. It's not appropriate to bring your temporary frustration into the mix.


Your fear of hurting her, however, is rooted in care and concern for your friend rather than for your own comfort. I do think you should discuss those feelings with her, though I admit I don't think the conversation will help diminish that fear.


The conversation will allow you to find out how she feels. If her visits are as important to her as yours are to you then I suspect the only thing to be done is try and take comfort in the fact that you've successfully made your home safe for her in the past and are likely to continue doing so in the future. However, it might be that she actually prefers hosting. The point is, you simply won't know unless you talk to her.


Looking after the ones you love is a privilege, not a burden, but it can be hard to feel that way when you're the one being looked after. She needs to know that she's welcome in your home. Emphasise the things you cherish about her visits – the cooking, the sense of closeness, all the other things you mentioned.


Let her know in no uncertain terms that you're happy to do what it takes to make your home safe and comfortable for her. With that groundwork secure, you can both engage honestly in the conversation.


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


The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network – the voice of liminal Britain.


[End background music]


Next tonight, a listener whose new partner comes with some unexpected baggage.


The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

I've been seeing a woman for a few weeks now, and I genuinely feel like she might be the one. However, I also feel that the situation is being complicated by her thrall.


Now, I'm of an age where every prospective partner has other things going on in their life – a career, or kids, or other dependents. When my current companion and I first met, she explained that her people have always had someone to do the household chores, fetch bloodstock, and stand over their tombs during the day.


Fine, I thought, I can respect family traditions. I'm totally accepting of who she is, but there's no other way to say it: her thrall is a pain in the neck.


She says that he just isn't used to change, that he gets anxious whenever she spends the night at my place, away from the safety of her sarcophagus. But, honestly? I think he just hates me.


The first time I went to visit her at home, we had dinner and then we settled in to have a glass of wine and a game of Scrabble. But the whole time I was there, her thrall stood in the corner of the room and just... stared at me.


And it was definitely at me, not at the pair of us, not staring into space. He was watching me. Every time I looked up, there he was. With those big... cold... emotionless eyes...


My date picked up on my nerves. She said it was nothing to worry about, he'd settle down as soon as he got used to me. But his behaviour has only got worse as our relationship has progressed.


She swears he's bound completely, no will of his own. But whenever he gets the chance, he's disrespectful, and sometimes downright destructive.


He ignores me completely if I speak to him, pretending he hasn't heard me. At first I generously imagined he hadn't understood. Perhaps he can only hear orders from my, uh, sweetheart, I thought. But then he started going out of his way to make life difficult for me.


I said something in passing about disliking mushrooms, not realising he was in the room. And that evening, it just so happened to be mushroom soup for dinner. I mentioned feeling like having a bath, and lo and behold, he's used up all the hot water in an impromptu cleaning spree.


I know this sounds petty, but it's getting worse. Two mornings ago I found him mixing colloidal silver into my coffee. I don't want to lose this relationship, but I'm not sure how much more I can take. How do I let my... lady friend know that there's a problem without causing a rift?


The Presenter (as themselves)

Listener, this does not sound petty at all. It sounds like a very frustrating situation, made more difficult by the relative newness of your relationship.


It is unusual for a thrall to demonstrate this much autonomy and to express

such distinct preferences, but not unheard of, especially if the thrall in question has been in service for an unusually long period of time.


Some thralls, on being bound to the same family for a matter of decades, or even centuries, can indeed start to display a far more complex internal life than their younger counterparts.


It seems to me that he is acting out in reaction to his perception of you as a threat either to his mistress directly, or to the relationship between the two of them. The ideal solution would be for you to develop as positive a relationship with him as possible, reassuring him that you mean no harm.


If that's the course you choose to take, there are plenty of instructional resources for reconditioning available online or at your local library. As this sounds a particularly difficult case, you might also consider hiring a professional to work with him for a time.


As I said, this is a long-term solution. In the short term, you need to do some damage control.


Keeping him in another room while you're visiting may not be the most comfortable for him, but will mean you can enjoy your Scrabble games in peace. I recommend you and your companion cook for yourselves on the days when you're visiting, as the incident with the silver is... concerning.


Of course, for any of this to be effective you are going to need support from your... “lady friend”. I understand you're worry about causing a rift, but this needn't be about her taking sides between you and him. Making her thrall more comfortable with your presence will make life easier for all three of you.


Besides which, you deserve a partner who takes your comfort seriously, even if they do not share your concerns. If she won't listen when you tell her how her thrall is making you feel, or if she's not willing to compromise to make you feel more welcome, I'm afraid you may have to accept that she isn't the one after all.


That's all we have time for tonight. Next, which cleaning product is right for your needs? We tested the ten leading stain removal brands to see which performs best against tough stains like red wine, dried blood, ectoplasm, ichor, holy oil, profane oil, asses' milk...


[The Presenter's voice fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through classical music and static before fading out.


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


H.R. Owen

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


Tonight's second listener letter was based on a submission by Mad About the Ghoul in Limerick. Thanks, friend!


You can submit your own monstrous agonies online at MonstrousAgonies.co.uk, by email at submissions@monstrousagonies.co.uk, or find us on Tumblr at Monstrous Agonies.


You can support the programme by leaving a review on iTunes, sharing the programme with your friends and familiars, or supporting us on Patreon at patreon.com/MonstrousAgonies.


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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