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  • Writer's pictureH.R Owen

Episode Thirty Four

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Monstrous Agonies E34S01 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Thirty Four.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through classical music, a voice saying “-sure it was the tape?”, and a voice saying “-what is gonna happen-”before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

[Background music: An acoustic guitar in the middle of playing a blues riff]

The Presenter

-folk Network, the voice of liminal Britain.

[Background music fades out. Pause.]

The Understudy

Sorry, I got distracted listening to that for a second there. I think the last time I did this, it was that lovely, bluesy guitar riff, it was... Oof. Well, it was a while ago, but I'm pretty sure it was Gregorian chanting. Gotta say, prefer the guitar – way better. Good job on the station for updating that.

But you're not here to listen to me natter on about old times, because the time right now is about quarter to two on Wednesday night, which, if I just take a quick look at the schedule here, means it's time for... Oh. The agony aunt.

Nothing for it, I suppose, but to get it over and done with.

The first letter tonight is giving me... Hmm. living arrangements? And somewhere in the background there, there's notes of... Platonic intimacy? OK then. Here we go!

The Understudy (as First Letter Writer)

When I first leased my current flat, I took it alone, thinking I'd use the second bedroom as a library. At least, I thought I was alone. It turns out the place is already... inhabited by some kind of musical beings? Sorry, I-I don't know the official term for them.

This particular sort requires frequent singing to keep them in good humour. Otherwise they get antsy, and start breaking various objects as they see fit. Recorded music doesn’t do a thing to stop them, or whistling or anything like that – it has to be singing.

It was quite lucky I tried it, really. I mean, I wouldn't have thought of it. They'd started throwing my things around and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Now, I talked to my mum about it. She's kind of a woowoo hippy type? But she suggested I sing the house a lullaby and maybe it would calm it down.

It sounded ridiculous, to be honest. But then I came home from a really hard day at work, and found they'd smashed one of my favourite mugs. And I thought, fine! I'll give it a go, and if it doesn't work, I'll start looking for a new flat in the morning.

I felt such a fool at first, standing in the kitchen in my socks, singing Rock-a-Bye Baby. Nothing happened... at first. But then, all at once, the whole mood just shifted. It was like the house itself was letting out this huge sigh of relief.

I sang everything I could think of – nursery rhymes, pop songs, hymns I half remembered from school. I... Well, this is a bit embarrassing to admit, but I even tried rapping to them. Which made them... Well, whatever it was, it- it felt like laughing, anyway.

They like it most when I'm really feeling it – when I'm bouncing round my room, or bawling in the shower. I don't need to get the words right or even the notes, thank goodness. I just let rip, and sing my heart out.

I had a party a few months ago, just a couple of close friends catching up over some cheese and wine. And I ended up mentioning the beings to them. Before I knew it, we were off, singing all these daft little campfire songs with actions and singing in the round and all sorts. Oh, and they loved it – they absolutely loved it! I could tell, they were totally blissed out for weeks afterwards.

But then, the rent went up. Not drastically, but enough that I’ve had to get a flat mate. And... he doesn’t like them. The beings, I mean. He wanted to call an exterminator, but I-I managed to talk him down to a rehoming.

I don’t want to lose them! They're fine as long as I sing. They have been a bit moody since the new guy moved in, but they aren't breaking anything or acting up. He is adamant though. He says they're like vermin, compared my singing to leaving food out for rats or something!

The problem is, I can't actually afford to stay here without his share of the rent. And I like it here. And I like them. What should I do?

The Understudy (as themselves)

Ugh! Bleurgh! Agh! I hate that bit. I don't see why I just can't read them out like a normal person, in my actual voice. But no, it's all [in an impression of the Presenter] embody the voice that calls to you. Bloody awful business.

Anyway, listener. Your rotten flatmate? Kick him out! He sounds like a miserable sod.

I mean, it's not like these ghostie chaps are doing any harm! The thing about feeding rats is that they've got all sorts of diseases and fleases and... other things ending in “eases”. It's not safe to have them scurrying around your kitchen. But these little fellas? They're not doing anything of the sort! In fact, they sound frankly adorable.

What you want to do is, start putting your feelers out now for a new housemate. Keep it casual, and don't mention it to him. It's not like you're going to be able to talk this lad's head out of his- [breaks off awkwardly] Uh... Hmm.

Advertise for a new roommate with the condition that you'll need about a month's notice before they take the room. And let them know about the wee beasties. There is no point springing that on someone unexpectedly and ending up right back where you started.

When you've found someone, you can give your current chap a month's notice to pack his things and shift. If he's not keen on that idea? Just stop singing. I bet your little friends will be able to cause mischief enough to convince him.

Right! Well that's one down, which means there's only one more to go. If I can be honest with you for a second, I've been, uh, fretting about this part of the show ever since the recording equipment appeared.

Which, if I'm just, uh, having a little rant for the moment, is another thing! Usually they're actually really good about giving me a heads-up if they're going to need me to stand in? But not this time. Just, poof! [in a stern voice] You are now on air, please mind your language.

And I wouldn't mind, that is, except... [sighs] I was supposed to be going out for Midsummer before this all kicked off. I wonder if that's where the Presenter's gone? It's nice to think about them being off to a big Midsummer party on Monday night and now they're just, I don't know, sleeping it off.

I-It doesn't seem likely, knowing them. Not that I do, really, not that anyone can know a disembodied voice on the radio, but you know. We- We're colleagues.


I hope they're OK.

I-I mean, apart from anything else, I'd really, really like to leave the house sometime this week! If you're out there listening, pal? You owe me.

Anyhow. This isn't, uh, going to get me through the next letter so let's get back to it! Next up... Hmm. This one feels a bit... meaty. I'm getting, I'm getting, what am I getting? I'm getting... etiquette, I-I think. Could be manners. There's a subtle but important difference. But the main thing I'm getting from this one is... family matters. Well. Let's find out!

The Understudy (as Second Letter Writer)

My brother recently took up with a new girlfriend. He's completely smitten, and I'm happy for him. I really am. She's not quite like his previous partners. He tended to go for real sweethearts – wouldn't say boo to a goose, always very pretty and very quiet, and, if I'm being perfectly honest, a bit dull.

So when he introduced me to his new girlfriend, I thought, oh, that's a change. She's... feisty. Speaks her mind Whatever the topic of conversation, she's always ready to jump in and share her opinions. It's lovely, really.

She's a different genus to us, and look, I know it's not the done thing to admit it, but I was a bit awkward when I first met her. I've just never really spent time with anyone in her genus before. But I really wanted her to feel welcome into the family so I did my best. Got talking.

We got onto the subject of my new dog. My brother and I had plans to go up to our mum's for a weekend at the start of June, to celebrate Mum's birthday. Mum's allergic, so I knew I wouldn't be able to bring him with me, but I was worried about leaving him in a kennel for the first time.

My brother's girlfriend pointed out she wasn't coming up to Mum's either and offered to dog-sit for me. I wasn't quite sure, but my brother said it sounded like a great idea.

If I'm honest it seemed like she'd got the idea into her head and wasn't really interested in being told no. But I figured, what was the worst that could happen! [laughs, then sighs]

She was very apologetic about it. Offered to get me a new one. Which isn't really the point, but I suppose I appreciate the gesture in some small way. She said it wasn't personal, it's just that her genus has strong impulses in that direction, and she hadn't anticipated what it would be like having prey in the house.

I'm just a bit conflicted, I suppose. Genuses differ on these things, I know. And I don't want to offend. But on the other hand... If I'm completely honest... I am actually a bit upset. Would it be insensitive, do you reckon, to bring this up with her?

The Understudy (as themselves)

She... She ate... your dog!

No, it is not insensitive for you to bring up the fact that a woman has eaten your dog! Oh, God have mercy-! [deep breath and sigh]

To be clear, this has absolutely nothing to do with her genus, so don't go painting them all with this brush. There is no genus in the world that is simultaneously able to hold a conversation about dogs, and also not able to resist the urge to eat them. This isn't a genus thing, this is a “good God what a horrible, horrible woman” thing.

She ate your dog! I'm pretty sure you can phone the police for this. I know, I know, ACAB and all that but this is ludicrous, you see that right? I mean, this is, y-y-you, sitting there feeling like, [in a prissy voice] “Oh, ought I bring it up, won't that be rude to the poor woman?” She ate your dog! Rude doesn't come into it!

Even if you don't want to press charges – and I really, strongly recommend you do – please, don't ever, ever talk to this woman again. And if I'm being perfectly honest, your brother's on thin ice too! You tell him from me, there's a bloody big middle ground between 'sweet but dull' and 'literally eats other people's pets'.

And a final bit of advice for you, dear listener. Stick up for yourself! You're upset? Be upset! If there's anything in the world worth being upset about, this is it!

It's now time for a word from our sponsors, and I... I don't know... who's sponsoring- Oh, no, no wait! Hang on a second! I have a Post-It note, I saw it somewhere... Uh, Post-It, Post-It, Post-It, Post-It... Yep! Yep I have a Post-It note, here it is! And it says...

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

The Understudy

Gordon's... G-Gordon's? Gorgons? Gorgons. No. No, no, it's definitely a D. Gordons... Uh...

Oh, this is absolute chicken scratch! Don't they teach you proper penmanship at radio school? Good lord.

Gordon's Something-or-Other. Get it... while it's wet?

[End background music]

The Understudy

Sorry about that, Gordon. Hopefully, they'll type it next time.

Ugh, and now, thank all the powers! We are finished with the agony aunt segment and, if the universe has any kindness in its heart for little old me, I won't have to cover it again for another hundred years at least. I mean... Eating people's dogs? What's the world coming to.

Moving swiftly, and with great enthusiasm, on. I was scheduled to play a segment about famous writers in creature history? If you're expecting that, you're about to be sorely disappointed because, everything that's just happened, I actually need some cheering up.

So! Here is a full list of reasons I think the Rum Tum Tugger is not only very real, but probably one of us. Reason Number One: They say that it's cat make-up, but I've literally never seen him without it. Reason Number Two: Sometimes when he ruffles his fur, it looks like it's moving on it's own. Reason Number Three: Sapios' hips can't traditionally move their hips like that. Reason Number Four...

[The Understudy's voice fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-often for the smallest things-”, electronic music, a voice saying “-'64, '65-” and static before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

Episode Thirty Four of Monstrous Agonies was written by H.R. Owen, and performed by Sophie B.

Tonight's first letter was based on a submission by Orbworb. Thanks, friend.

Next week will be our last episode for Season One. But you can still send in your letters and suggestions for Season Two through our website at, by email at, by Tumblr at Monstrous Agonies and on Twitter @Monstrous_Pod.

Hello and thank you to our latest supporter on Patreon, [REDACTED]. You can join them at

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]

H.R. Owen

Hello, friends, Hero here. Thought I'd pop in, since you're largely doing without my dulcet tones this week. I also wanted to let you know about a queer horror podcast that I think fans of Monstrous Agonies will really enjoy.

Hello from the Hallowoods follows a group of survivors facing the terrors of forest at the end of the world, presented to you by the ever-enigmatic host, Nikignik.

It's a cracking listen, packed with queer love and spooky moments, and I really recommend you give it a go. Check it out wherever you get your podcasts!


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