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Monstrous Agonies E60S02 Transcript
[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]
Monstrous Agonies: Episode Sixty.
[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through folk music, a voice saying “-guinea pig-”, a voice saying “-under pressure-”, a voice saying “-to impost more sanctions-” and pop music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]
-as one by one the stars blink back.
It's time for our advice segment, where I answer your questions about life, love, and all things liminal. First up tonight, a listener wondering how to make amends.
The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)
My boyfriend is a fairly reclusive person. He likes his own space and values his privacy – understandably so, as he's a bit of a minor celebrity in the local area. He's not the kind of famous where people stop him in the street to get his autograph or whatever, but there are a couple of places nearby that sell eggcups and tea-towels and things with blurry pictures of him on.
I mean, they say they're pictures of him. I always say they just look like a bunch of fat house cats [laughs] I've got a t-shirt, actually. Says, “I Had a Wild Night with the Beast of Bevendean!” [laughing] and these claws marks on the back. He nearly passed out when I showed it him, he was laughing so hard.
He's not so fond of me right now though! [laughs] I'm, uh... pretty thoroughly in the dog house. And I wanted to write to you about it because I don't think I actually did anything wrong? And I wanted to see if- if you agreed. And either way, I'll take any tips you've got about, you know, smoothing things over.
It was just a silly conversation. We were making dinner, and I don't even remember who brought it up, but we started talking about which famous creatures we'd invite to a dinner party. Not to suck up or anything but, uh... you made my list. [laughs]
That kind of brings me to my point. I said, just wondering out loud, really, it's interesting that we don't have so many famous creatures in this part of the world. I mean like really famous, like, not just pop stars or TV personalities, you know.
And I said, there's really only, well, you, and your, uh... [laughs] “station manager”, if that's what we're calling it these days. And Nessie, obviously. God, I love her Instagram, talk about #goals. And I know the Irish have their fair share, both the ones we know about like Crom Cruach and Dustin the Turkey, and the ones we all pretend not to. Looking at you, Enya.
But otherwise, both of us were mostly naming people from America or the rest of Europe. And I waffled on a bit saying it was probably a lot of ignorance on our part – of course I'm sure there's loads of famous creatures in the rest of the world who we just don't know so well over here – and about how small an area we're talking about, you know.
And I looked up from the tofu I was pressing and he was looking at me with this weird expression on his face. Apparently I'd hurt his feelings by implying that he wasn't properly famous.
So you can see my problem, right? Because... he isn't. He doesn't even have a Wikipedia page. You have a Wikipedia page. The 'personal life' section is quite a read. [laughs]
Anyway, I've tried apologising but it didn't do the trick. He asked again if I thought he was famous and I wasn't going to lie to him! It's been a week and he's still being... [sighs] Honestly, he's being kind of snotty.
We've been together for about six months, and I do like him, I really like him. But I hadn't seen this side to him before. It feels really... childish?
If I'm being unreasonable, just tell me. I will go cap in hand and make my apologies – I'll even make a Wikipedia page for him! But if I'm not, if I'm in the right here, how am I supposed to get him out of this snit?
The Presenter (as themselves)
W- Uh. Sorry, what do you mean, 'the personal life section'? Why is my personal life on Wikipedia? And for the record, she is my station manager, and she is only my station manager. [clears throat]
Um. To answer your question, I don't think you're in the wrong, precisely. You perhaps haven't handled this as diplomatically as you could, but I don't think that's really the issue here. I actually don't think the subject of the argument is an issue at all. I'm more concerned with the way in which you two are arguing. You're right – it is childish.
When people argue, there are three possible outcomes. They either work together for a solution; they agree to disagree and move on; or they come to recognise that it's impossible for the relationship to continue without agreement, and that agreement is equally impossible, and so part ways.
In the heat of an argument, it's not always easy to see these outcomes. You need time to cool off and consider the matter within the wider context of the relationship. Then, you decide what you want to do about it, whether that's having a conciliatory cup of tea and a cuddle, or mutually agreeing not to make unsolicited comments on one another's choice of décor.
Instead, your boyfriend has been sulking. For a week. Meanwhile, you “tried apologising, but it didn't do the trick”. There's no trick, listener. An apology isn't a set of magic words you say to get yourself out of trouble. You apologise because you're sorry. If you're not sorry, don't apologise.
I don't really have any practical advice for you. You – both of you – need to decide for yourselves what you want to do about this situation. Can you find a way past this together? Do you want to? Is it worth trying? I don't have those answers. But whatever you do, do it. This stalemate is immature and insulting to the both of you.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
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[End background music]
Our second letter tonight is from a listener feeling conflicted.
The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)
Greetings from the churning tumult, the brilliant darkness, the soundless shrieking, the maddening infinite, the unending chaos that lies unseen beyond the edge of your sheltered little bubble of a reality.
I write to you, as all others who write to you do, because I have a trouble that I do not know how to end on my own. It will not resolve under the effects of rending or tearing, wailing or devouring, creeping or slithering, maddening or enlightening, so I'm afraid I cannot apply any of my usual problem-solving skills.
When I got to this reality, I thought I'd take my time. Send out a few cryptic messages, start a few cults, you know. Then I thought, no, let's really go back to basics. Let's peel this place up from the edges, starting by finding those edges and how they're put together.
And oh, wow. That was some challenge, figuring out the physical properties of this universe. I mean, I thought I understood linear time at first, but then it turns out it only goes in one direction. Which doesn't make sense, lines definitely go in two directions.
And there were all the other natural laws to understand. This is the first universe that I've taken apart figuratively, rather than literally, but it seems to me those other realities were put together much more sensibly. I visited a nice frictionless plane once. Very clean, very modern. It's not there any more, obviously, but I think this universe could take some notes. I mean, just when I was understanding time here, you had to throw in how gravity effects it – gravity, effecting time, you must be joking!
As I was trying to understand how this ridiculous universe is put together, I started to get interested in how the people living in it think it's put together. You're still missing pieces, of course. Some pretty big ones actually.
But instead of being filled with contempt for the limited capacity for analysis of your tiny minds, or shaking with laughter fit to split the earth and boil the seas at the idea of all the things you have wrong, I found it... kind of cute? You fumble in the dark, lacking the breadth of perspective and keenness of sense necessary to understand anything, yet you persist in trying.
Most of my connections on your side of existence indulge my curiosity. I have a few such instruments under my power, including the one whose hand now writes this letter. But lately, rather than provoking them to seek forbidden knowledge, complete the rituals, and usher in the end of all things by ushering in me! I have found myself just... talking to them.
One tells me endless stories of what they've done and seen and the people they know. Yet another lets me reach a tendril into her mind so I may join in as she listens nightly to your radio show.
Some of my instruments are more insistent that I hasten the end of the world – let it burn to ashes, and leave behind a new universe to form. Those are just the kinds of personalities I attract.
And they have a point. I could tear a hole through the walls of this reality, wriggle in and turn it inside out, play with the minds of its inhabitants as they struggle to comprehend the horrors of my being. But I find I don't really want to.
I've been doing this for so long. If I stop now, what else is there? How else do I find purpose and joy? What should I do?
The Presenter (as themselves)
I would strongly prefer you didn't destroy this reality, listener. For one thing, your heart clearly isn't in it.
Some jobs, it's true, benefit from an attitude of “if it's worth doing, it's worth making a start”. But crawling through a rip in the veil between worlds and tearing minds asunder with the unknowable horror of your being is an undertaking that really needs your full commitment.
I think you – and everyone else – would be far better off pursuing these new interests of yours. Just because you've been doing something for a long time is no particularly compelling reason to continue doing it. You have done this work, and done it well, and enjoyed it. And now, it is time to enjoy something new.
Have you considered going into further education? You mention using people in this reality as instruments of your ghastly intention – why not pick up a grad student or two? From what I know of physics students, it won't take much convincing to get them to agree to being in a symbiotic relationship with an eldritch being from beyond this universe.
I hear your concerns about what this change in direction means for you in the future. But I don't think you need to worry about that right now. There's no external pressure one way or another.
You aren't beholden to societal expectations or petty concerns like money or stability or the passage of time. You can do whatever you want. The trick is finding out what that is.
I suggest you take some time to explore your options, making the most of these new interests of yours. Throw yourself into learning about our reality, about our feeble attempts to comprehend our reality – about our feeble attempts to comprehend our reality. Listen to the radio. Relax. Don't murder us all!
With time, I'm sure you'll find your way to new joy and fulfilment. It may not be what you expected from your life. That doesn't mean it's wrong, or that you're wrong to enjoy it. And if you do find yourself being called back to your previous pastimes, might I suggest you take those feelings out on the reality next door?
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
The Nightfolk Network. Every where, every when, on 131.3FM.
[End background music]
The time is two o'clock on Thursday morning. Next, are you considering walking into brackish water, falling backwards under a blanket of grey sky and letting your body sink slowly down until it is taken once more by the stinking river mud that birthed it, but not sure where to begin? We count down the top ten tips for...
[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through the sound of a doorbell, dance music, piano music, a voice saying “-associated with the Kremlin-” and pop music before fading out.
Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]
Episode Sixty of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.
Tonight's second letter was submitted by Leslie and today's advert came from Orbworb. Thanks, friends. See the show-notes for details on how to submit your own advert ideas.
You can support Monstrous Agonies with a monthly pledge at patreon.com/monstrousagonies, a one-off donation a ko-fi.com/hrowen, by sharing the programme with your friends and familiars, and by 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]