Episode Thirty Nine
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Monstrous Agonies E39S02 Transcript
[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]
Monstrous Agonies: Episode Thirty Nine.
[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-it's Friday 24th September-”, a voice saying “-Emma Raducanu is-”, a voice saying “-available for pre-order now-” and pop music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]
-laid upon the stone with trembling reverence.
It's coming up on two o'clock here on the Nightfolk Network, which means it's time for our advice segment.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
Everywhere, every when, on 131.3FM.
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Tonight's first letter asks how to help a friend navigate conflict in the community.
The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)
For a long time, I was the only person in my group of friends who was a part of the creature community. My friends are very supportive, even if they don’t understand my experiences, and I would trust them with my lives.
The thing is, one of my friends was recently turned. She had a bit of a rough go of it at first, and it’s not like we live in a very diverse area, so I was happy to help her through the transition. Recently, though, she’s become a little… I don’t want to say she’s too much, but there’s no other way I can put it.
She’s really thrown herself into the community online, and since I’m the only other person of the night she knows in real life, she always wants to know what I think about the discourse. She’s even called me out on a few things I’ve said as not being politically correct, which I would normally welcome, except that it was all stuff about my own lived experience.
I think she may be a little insecure about her recently changed identity, so she feels really protective of our community in a way that I can’t relate to. Some of the things she says, though, clearly borders on gatekeeping.
Not to mention that she wants to know absolutely everything about my lives and my genus! I’m not used to sharing this part of my lives with people outside my family, and she certainly was never this curious about the whole ‘rising from ash’ thing before she was turned.
I just feel bad. I don’t engage with the creature community like she does, which I don't think is a problem – I certainly don't think I deserve to be judged for it. But I’m the only friend that she can talk to about creature stuff, and everyone’s experience of being a part of this community is personal and sacred to them and deserves to be heard and all that.
She's still my friend, and I love her, but things are different now. It’s all becoming too much. Is there a way I can ask her to ease up, or is this just something I have to let her learn on her own?
The Presenter (as themselves)
I certainly think there's a middle ground here, listener. You don't have to suffer in silence, but neither does your friend have to do without your support.
Please, don't be afraid to push back against her invasive questions, or to voice your disagreement with her when she challenges you. As long as you can do so politely, and with kindness, there's no reason these disagreements need ruin your friendship. But the unvoiced frustration or resentment caused by leaving these feelings unaired certainly could.
I agree that your friend is likely feeling a little insecure about her transition into the community. I'm glad she's found kinship online. The Internet can be a wonderful tool when it comes to connecting with like-minded people. However, it's all too easy to cultivate an online environment for oneself that is only made up of like-minded people.
I think it would be beneficial to you both to get stuck in with your local community. You don't need to over-commit yourself. Find a few groups or events that you wouldn't mind attending, and bring her along.
In doing so, you'll be showing your friend that you care about your relationship, you want to spend time with her, and that you want to share your community with her. If she is feeling insecure about her place in things, that could be something she badly needs to feel.
It will also give her the opportunity to meet people who are not part of the same online conversations as her, and give you some reprieve from being the only person of the night she knows.
Conflict is not a dirty word. Nor is it synonymous with violence. Violence has no place in a healthy community, but conflict is not only inevitable – it's necessary.
When we disagree with one another, we are forced to interrogate the nature of our connection. Conflict asks of us all, what does it mean for us to be together? What are we to one another? Where do we draw our lines between in and out, with and against, us and them?
Your friend has found a community whose answers to those questions are rooted in shared opinions on certain specific topics. That's fine, as far as it goes. But it is not a reflection of the wider community to which you and she both belong. With your support, love, and honesty, I think she will come to understand this soon enough.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
The Nightfolk Network, sponsored by Dr Acula's Designer Dentures. Losing your teeth really sucks. But, uh. [sighs] With prices to die for at Dr Acula's, it doesn't have to be a pain in the neck. [clears throat and sighs]
[End background music]
Next, a listener trying to communicate with a difficult housemate.
The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)
Recently I moved into a new place, and it’s been great! It’s so nice to just have somewhere that’s mine, you know? It’s kind of an old house and needed some cleaning up when I first moved in. I took it down to see what it was, whether it was for the tip or the charity shop.
It was covered in dust, looked like it hadn't been touched for years. Decades, probably. Inside it was... Well, I've been calling her Lucy. I think she was sleeping – or... hibernating? She must have woken up when I opened the box.
It was a little weird at first, but it always is with a new housemate. We both had to make some adjustments. Lucy is a little difficult to communicate with. She can’t talk, and she can’t move when she’s being watched, so we mostly rely on me turning around to find her pointing at something, and the occasional cryptic note whenever she has the patience to scrawl something.
But we get along pretty well. I help her fix her ribbons, mend her dress, clean up the occasional ritual mouse sacrifice. And in exchange I don't have to worry about pests or security.
And I can put up with the jump scares. She was here first, after all. And besides, she has so much fun with them! We have similar tastes in movies, so that’s nice. It’s hard to argue over the remote with someone who just sits there and stares at you.
Everything was going fine. Like I said, we were making it work. But, this is the problem. I like to make stuffed toys – it's a hobby of mine. And lately, Lucy has taken to ruining them! I don’t just mean little rips, either, I mean eyes torn off, stuffing spilling out, adorable gore strewn about the place. I came down the other morning to three cuddly little heads, impaled on ballpoint pens she'd shoved into the succulent pots.
So far it’s only the ones I’m not overly attached to, but I have some on display that I put a lot of effort into. I’m worried – not just about them, but about Lucy. Why is she doing this? Why now? How do I solve whatever this is without locking up my favorite creations?
The Presenter (as themselves)
It can be a difficult to communicate with someone who doesn't have the same kind of language skills as you. Please don't mistake Lucy's limited methods of communication for limited emotional complexity. She may not be able to tell you exactly how she feels, but her feelings are still as real, and matter just as much, as any other housemate you might have.
The first thing to consider here is the behaviour itself. She is targeting the stuffed toys in particular, rather than wreaking more general havoc with your possessions. There is something about them that is either upsetting her directly, or that she feels is emblematic of a deeper concern.
The second thing to note is that this is a recent behaviour. That suggests to me that either something has changed externally that is prompting her to lash out, or there has been an internal, emotional change that Lucy is finding it difficult to process.
You haven't mentioned anything external that might have triggered this behaviour. If there's anything you can think of that stands out then by all means, deal with that first and see if it makes a difference. But my gut feeling is that this new behaviour on Lucy's part is related to your burgeoning friendship.
Let me be blunt. The last time Lucy engaged with a housemate, they put her away in a cardboard box, locked the box in a cupboard, and left her there for decades.
And then, you come along. Not only do you bring her out for the first time in goodness knows how many years. You fix her ribbons. Mend her dress. You play with her. You watch movies with her. You accept her, as she is. Little wonder she's feeling overwhelmed by the situation.
There are a few ways you might reassure her. You could make her some toys of her own, to do with as she wishes. If she wants to make a garden of impaled teddy bear heads, why not? As a member of your household, she deserves to make decisions about how she wants her space to look. The issue is her using your possessions to do so.
Alternatively, is there any way she might help you with your crafting? Her animosity towards the stuffed toys themselves might be reduced if she has a sense of ownership towards them. You might also think about making Lucy something else – a new dress, perhaps, or some other thoughtful gift to let her know you care.
The important thing is to demonstrate to Lucy that you understand the difference between her and the toys you create. They are toys. Objects. The kind of thing that it's alright to pull apart – or to put away in a shoebox, and forget about. She is not. She is a valued member of your household, and you respect her as you would any other housemate. If you can show her that – and if she can allow herself to believe it – I think you'll soon see the back of this difficult behaviour.
Next tonight, we're talking deja vu. With time existing at once as a closed loop, a rich tapestry, and a depthless void, it can be easy to lose track of one's place...
[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-no more leaks-”, a voice saying “-let all hell loose-”, classical music and guitar music before fading out.
Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]
Episode Thirty Nine of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.
Tonight's first letter was submitted by Ovya, the second letter was submitted by Kiera, and this week's advert came from an anonymous submitter. Thanks, friends. See the show-notes for how you can submit your own letters, suggestions and ads.
Hello and welcome to our latest supporter on Patreon, Indigo. Join them at patreon.com/monstrousagonies. You can also support the programme 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. Then...
[There are some shuffling noises as AGENT JUNE sits down.]
[HE HUFFS A LONG SIGH.] Alrighty, then. Just have to wait until Agent May gets back. That shouldn’t be too hard, right?
[A short pause, before AGENT JUNE groans loudly.]
It’s so boring here. There’s gotta be something for me to do, right? Let me just…
[AGENT JUNE is heard going through papers and messing around on the computer, before stopping.]
Huh. This wasn’t here before.
[He clicks, and there’s a beep as the recording starts. We hear IRENE GRAY going through papers. There’s wind whistling, and the creaking of her attic.]
[TO HERSELF] I think I’ve seen this code before. I’ll have to give it to Phoebe. She might be able to…I don’t know.
[A BEAT. IRENE SIGHS.] I know there’s something wrong with this town, Rose. Of course I do. Not just the people, but, well… [SLOWLY] some days, I step outside, and it feels like there’s something lurking right beneath my feet. As if the ground is just waiting for the opportunity to swallow me whole.
Though, can I be honest? I think that same thing is what’s keeping me here. Maybe— [SHE THINKS, THEN] Maybe it’s because I know how much you’d love it. Even with its weird quirks.
[A BEAT AS SHE PURSES HER LIPS.] Rose, I—
[Eerie music begins playing in the background as IRENE picks up a photograph.]
[SHE SUDDENLY STOPS, THEN, HER TONE SHIFTING TO FEAR] Wait, there’s…It’s a photograph of—god, I don’t know what. It looks like it should be a person, but—
[As she talks, we hear footsteps outside of the recording.]
[OVERLAPPING THE RECORDING] June, hey, turn that off!
Alright, alright, jeez! Sorry!
[There’s a click, and the recording of IRENE stops. A pause as AGENT JUNE thinks.]
Whatever that was sounds like it could be important, though, right? I mean, it wasn’t there before.
We can worry about that later. We have a job to do.
[MOCKING, TO HIMSELF] “Oh, we have a job to do.” [TO AGENT MAY] Yeah, alright. Fine. Let’s go.
The Heart of Ether is a mystery and horror podcast made by Three-Eyed Frog Presents. Stop by the quaint forest town of Daughtler, Washington every other Friday, wherever you get your podcasts. Stay safe out there.
[Music fades out.]