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  • Writer's pictureH.R. Owen

Episode Thirty Eight

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Monstrous Agonies E38S02 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Thirty Eight.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through static, a voice saying “-ladies and gentlemen-”, country music and football commentary before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-dancing through the waves to break on new ecstatic shores.

Now, it's almost two o'clock on Thursday morning, and time for our advice segment.

Our first letter this evening asks what might be done about some worrying nocturnal activities.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I’m a somnambulist. Uh, a fancy word for sleepwalker. And yeah, plenty of people walk in their sleep, no big deal. But what sends me over the edge and out of the ordinary is the kind of walking, and other activities, I undertake in my sleep.

Most nights, I climb out of my bedroom window, scale the wall up to the rooftop, and walk around on top of the city until sunrise. I have no idea how I do it. I’m, uh, [laughs] hardly some kind of master of parkour in my waking life.

I almost always wake up in my own room, or at least in front of the building I live in, like my unconscious self is trying to get back to bed before I reach the natural end of my sleep cycle. But recently, I've started waking up in the same place every morning: outside my friend Shivani’s house.

The first time, I actually went and knocked on the door. “Hey, remember that whole somnambulist thing I’ve mentioned? Sorry to bother you but I just woke up here, and I was wondering if I could maybe have a glass of water?” I’ve known Shivani several months now, and she was fine about it. The first time.

The second time I didn’t want to bother her. I was just going to walk home, but she came out to talk to me. Apparently I’d spent the night knocking on her doors and windows, trying to get in. She looked like she hadn’t slept a wink.

I apologised profusely, of course, and she gave me a lift home, and she was so sweet. She was all sympathetic even though I kept saying that normally i-it’s not like this, I must have just had a weird dream and got turned around.

I really didn’t want there to be a third time. I tried everything. Keeping the window closed and locked. Taking sleep aids to see if I could really knock myself out. Planning out routes in the day in the opposite direction of her house, and going to bed concentrating on how fun and interesting it would be to explore those routes instead, so that maybe my subconscious would pick up on it and, and go that way.

None of it worked. I'd just find my way back there. Knocking... Knocking... All night, begging to be let in. I'd wake to Shivani, leaning out of her bedroom window, screaming my name until I came to.

Finally, the other night, I got in. I don't know how. My fingers were raw from my grip on the wall I'd climbed. Looking at in the morning, I don't know how I did it, scaled this unscalable wall. I'd worked away at the latch of a locked window until finally I could slip inside. I woke in her bedroom. Standing at the foot of her bed.

She wasn't there. She'd gone to stay with her parents for the weekend. I didn't know, why would I? We weren't that close before all this and it hasn't exactly brought us together.

It takes me a good two hours to walk to her house, so currently I’m taking all possible precautions before I fall asleep and using a watch alarm that goes off every two hours. Unfortunately, this broken sleep is having a severe effect on me physically and emotionally. What, um. What's happening to me? How- How do I stop this? How can I save my friendship and get some proper sleep again?

The Presenter (as themselves)

I don't want to alarm you, listener, but I think this is a rather more urgent matter than you may appreciate. Please, don't panic. I don't believe you're in any danger, and you're certainly not to blame for what's happening here. Remain calm, and follow this advice as soon as you are able.

You need to put some space between yourself and your friend. And I mean that quite literally. When choosing your destination, consider Northern Ireland, the Scottish islands, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man – anything that puts distance and deep water between you and Shivani.

Head for the coast, and go for a swim. Be sure to go right under, letting the salt water envelop you completely. And make sure you go in the middle of the day. You want to make sure you're getting as much direct sunlight as possible.

Try to stay in as long as you're able. An hour would be best but it's late in the year in the North Atlantic, I appreciate that might not be within your limits. I am fairly certain you won't experience any disruptive sleepwalking while you're so far away from Shivani, so make the most of it, and get some rest.

While you're away, ask a trusted friend – not Shivani – to send your pyjamas and bedding to be professionally laundered. All of it. Ask specifically for natural rosemary detergent, and do not settle for synthetic scents. For the mattress, I think a standard smoke cleanse should suffice. Rosemary, again, will do nicely, but bay leaves will also work well.

You might also consider installing horseshoes over your windows and doors. I appreciate that you may not wish to put these items on display, however, given their... difficult cultural connotations. It's entirely up to you.

Hopefully, once you get home again that'll be the end of it. But if you find yourself drawn towards Shivani's house again, please, don't put off seeking further help. Find a licensed, experienced practitioner who can help you take immediate action towards a lasting solution. Best of luck, listener.

Stay tuned for our second letter after a word from our sponsors.

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

The Presenter

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[End background music]

The Presenter

Next tonight – a listener finding it hard to get the service they deserve.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

I still remember when it was relatively unusual for anyone in our genus to get shod. It just wasn't necessary. I grew up in a fairly big herd out in the New Forest, and our lifestyle was such that our feet stayed naturally strong and our hooves wore down quite nicely by themselves.

But things change. Like most people, my life is far more sedentary than my ancestors'. Or even my parents'. I'm not exactly keeping my feet in shape, standing all day at my desk or taking the odd trot through Marks & Spencer's. Plus I live in the city now, so if I do manage to squeeze in a run it's usually over tarmac.

As a result, I need new shoes every six weeks or so. And, um. Well. It's-- It's a nightmare! [laughs] Yeah, it's, it's awful. It's the most stressful thing I have to do on a regular basis and... I hate it! God, I hate it so much. I mean, it's not the most pleasant experience to begin with. I know some people find it relaxing, but frankly between the smells and the small talk and the stranger touching my feet it's, um, [laughs] it's not what I'd call a day at the spa.

And on top of that, well. I've been to, uh, six different farriers since I moved away from home. And every one of them has done or said something quite fantastically offensive.

They ask me personal questions about how I sleep other things. Or they make these sweeping statements about my genus as if every herd is the same. One fellow finished each stage of the process with a reassuring, “Good boy,” while another blatantly over-charged me on the grounds that [mocking voice] the prices I'd seen on her website were for horses. Even though there is literally no difference between our feet.

I know six isn't the biggest sample size. And most of them were just ignorant and thoughtless rather than really hateful. Well, apart from that last woman. But I don't want to have to brace for impact every time I go and get what ought to be a fairly routine treatment.

You can imagine none of this has improved my anxiety around getting shod. I mean, it's already a sensory nightmare without the added stress of wondering whether or not I'm going to get through the encounter without facing some kind of microaggression.

At this point, I basically have to plan for the day of my appointment to be a complete write-off. I need time beforehand to gear myself up, and then anything from a few hours to the rest of the day to calm down and look after myself.

I don't have the energy to call out every ignorant person who makes me uncomfortable. And I especially don't have that energy when I'm already in a situation I find very stressful. But I can't do without this. I need shoes, you know? Please, any advice, I-- [sighs] I'm just exhausted.

The Presenter (as themselves)

I'm sorry you've had to go through this, listener. It sounds extremely difficult. I agree that for the most part it sounds as if these people are acting out of ignorance and unconscious prejudice rather than outright malice. But that is no excuse for their behaviour, and no reason why you should have to put up with it.

Your first step is to reach out to your community for recommendations. Seek out other members of your genus who live under similar circumstances as you and have similar needs.

Once you have some recommendations for creature-friendly farriers, I suggest you talk to them directly about what accommodations you might be able to make, whether that's listening to something on your headphones while they work or having each step explained beforehand.

It will take time and energy to find the right farrier for you, and it's likely you'll never really enjoy the process. But you deserve better than going through a sensory and social ordeal every time you want to get some basic maintenance.

Take your time, be clear about your needs and expectations, and remember: they want your custom. If they can't give you what you need, you can take your money elsewhere.

[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 Presenter

Next tonight, what to do with all that linen. We talk to design guru and DIY enthusiast, Nefekare, about his ingenious solutions for upcycling all manner of winding sheets, shrouds and bandages...

[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through a voice speaking French, a voice saying “-you wanna hear that one again or-”, a voice saying “-did it describe a world you recognise-” and static before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

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

Tonight's first letter was submitted by Leslie, the second letter was based on an idea by Dylan, and this week's advert came from Jeebs. Thanks, friends. See the show-notes for how you can submit your own letters, suggestions and ads.

If you'd like to support the show, head over to where you can pledge as little as £1 a month. You can also show your support by sharing 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]


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