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  • Writer's pictureH.R Owen

Episode Thirty Six

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Monstrous Agonies E36S02 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Thirty Six.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through static, a voice saying “-ride on one’s-”, inaudible speech, a voice saying “-shock to your system-” and classical music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-cling like corpses to the clammy earth.

Up next on 131.3FM, it's time once more for our advice segment.

[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

Our first letter this evening is from a listener finding it hard to communicate with a new partner.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I’m not a part of the creature community but my partner of two months is. They are actually the one who introduced me to your broadcast!

Their nature can be… difficult at times. You see, they are a haunted board game and it may seem unusual, but we make it work pretty well!

We’ve never discussed the nature of their haunting or the ins and outs of their manifestations and so on. But, while I don't want to pry, I would like to bring the topic up as it seems like something has been bothering them.

I keep finding their pieces scattered around the room, thrown out of the box with surprising force. Last week I found a pile of counters and dice that had fallen under the sofa, goodness knows how long they'd been there. I'm worried they're going to lose something. I don't know if that would mean anything for them but I don't like the thought of it.

And lately, all their event cards have been disastrous. Not so much, 'Go back three spaces' as 'Abandon your home, do not leave a note, drive into the wild wastes never to be seen again'. Apart from anything else, it makes playing the game rather difficult. We don't really have wild wastes in Surrey.

My partner and I discuss nearly everything with each other. Their refusal now to talk about how and what they are feeling is what makes me think that it’s probably about their nature, since that's the one thing we haven't really talked about.

I’ve asked how they're doing and offered my comfort and they’ve been thankful but I don’t know what else to do. Should I ask them about their problems any more than I have or just give them space?

The Presenter (as themselves)

There is one detail in particular that stands out to me here, listener. This relationship is only two months old. You say that you and your partner discuss nearly everything with one another. Could it be that the things they don't feel comfortable discussing with you simply haven't come up before now?

It sounds as if you have both become very comfortable with one another already. That's perfectly normal – there are no set rules on how long it should take to feel a certain way in a relationship, and some people do move at a faster emotional pace than others.

But however close you may feel, two months is not actually very long at all. Trust takes time. You and your partner haven't had chance yet to explore each other's boundaries. You're still in the process of demonstrating to one another that you can each be trusted with the other's emotions.

As the relationship progresses, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to show up for one another. Right now, it's your turn.

You've already done very well taking care of your partner through this difficult time, and showing them that you're there if and when they want to talk. Otherwise, I recommend you leave them to it, give them space to work through their feelings in their own way, and trust that they know where to find you if they need you.

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

The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network, sponsored by Lady Lovibond's extended warranty cruises. Answer our calls. We're just trying to give you a free cruise.

[End background music]

The Presenter

Our second letter tonight is from a listener looking for some practical advice about welcoming a new customer.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

I've been working as a tattoo artist for about fifteen years now, and have made a pretty good name for myself, at least in my neck of the woods. Before you ask, I'm not the tattooist who prompted that letter to you last year. Though I do think I know the woman who was – it's a small world, and the arcane tattoo scene is even smaller. There are literally dozens of us! [laughs weakly, and sighs]

When I opened my own shop, I knew that, as a creature myself, I wanted it to be somewhere people of all genuses would feel welcome. I've made an effort to educate myself on techniques and materials that are safe for different kinds of bodies, and appropriate for different kinds of cultures.

We use vegan supplies and anything that isn't vegan – the blood for sigil work, for example – we make sure is local and ethically sourced. The shop's got a really good reputation in the community and... yeah. I'm proud of myself.

The other day, a customer came in looking for some really traditional, stick-and-poke work. She'd had a fair bit of ink done when she was young, back in Thebes – gorgeous stuff, the blue still lovely and bright, even after all this time. She explained that they were ritual tattoos related to her gods. They meant a lot to her, I could tell.

She was... out of action for a while but she's back on her feet now and wants to add to her collection. Great, I said, no problem. I love stick-and-poke! We chatted a bit about designs and placements and so on. And then she asked about the ink.

When she said she wanted something traditional... [laughs] She wasn't joking. She wants to use the same ink that her original artist used back in the Middle Kingdom. She says it’s got “ritual significance”. But I can't find this stuff anywhere.

I looked it up – the pigment it uses is so ancient that for a while there, we actually lost the knowledge of how to make it. It's only just been rediscovered, it’s not exactly something I can order in!

I suppose I have two questions. First... Well, I mean, you know stuff, right? Don't suppose you know where I can get some ancient Egyptian tattoo ink, do you? [laughs] And if not, is there anything I can do to make this process as otherwise respectful of her traditions as possible?

The Presenter (as themselves)

I'm afraid your first question has a rather straightforward answer. I can tell you with relative certainty that it will not be feasible for you to acquire the same ink used by your customer's previous artist.

It's not impossible – very few things are, provided you have enough money and a thorough disregard for the law. Or physics. But I don't think you're quite that committed to fulfilling your customer's request. I'm afraid your usual ink will have to do.

The answer to your second question, however, is also far less complicated than you might expect. If you want to make the tattooing process as respectful as possible to your client and her customs, you will simply have to ask her. I may... “know stuff”. But no amount of second-hand knowledge could ever make me better placed than her to tell you what she needs.

It may be that she doesn't have any particular requests. Or she may ask for something that you are either unable or unwilling to offer. On the other hand, there might well be some small gesture you can make that will help her feel more culturally connected to the tattooing process – something in the preparation of the space, perhaps, or in the language you and she use to discuss the work. The fact is, you simply won't know until you ask her.

You say you've worked hard to make your shop as welcoming as possible, and it sounds as if you've built up quite a reputation for yourself on those grounds. That's certainly something to be proud of.

Here, you have the chance to build on that reputation, by being someone who not only anticipates their customer's needs beforehand but is also able to acknowledge their ignorance, and listen to others when they need to.

It's two o'clock on Thursday morning. Next tonight, we talk to that darling of the art world, Adelina Grigorescu, about her controversial installation, 'Reflections', now exhibiting at the Scottish National Museum of Liminal Art. Mirrors have long been sites of tension for the creature community...

[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through piano music, a voice saying “-makes plenty of beauty-”, a voice saying “-and his duck-” and static before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

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

Tonight's first letter was submitted by Rad, the second was based on a submission by Wolfgang, and this week's advert came from Orbworb. Thanks, friends! See the show-notes for how you can submit your own letters, suggestions and ads.

Hello and welcome to our latest supporters on Patreon, Kell, Kerry, and Emily. Join them at You can also support the show 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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