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Episode Twenty Five

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Monstrous Agonies E25S01 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Twenty Five.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through pop music and a voice saying “-all your favourites-” before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-maintain eye contact, and show no fear.

It's quarter to two on Thursday morning, and time for our weekly advice segment. Starting us off tonight, a listener whose housemates have put them in a difficult position.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I moved in with some new roommates earlier this year. There’s three of them. Due to our differing schedules, myself and one of the other girls moved in first. Let’s call her Bella, or else I think this could get pretty confusing.

Bella and I lived there for about two weeks, and it was pretty great. She worked nights, and I’m mostly diurnal personally, so we don't see much of each other, but we did go running together a couple of times.

During one of these times, she mentioned, quite casually, that her work up at the hospital is actually mostly with the risen. Well, I paused for a moment, because I mean, I don’t have anything against risers, obviously, but some of those conditions are really contagious, aren’t they? Especially if the patient is at all belligerent.

Mostly, it was just strange to me that she hadn’t brought it up before. But I figured, she’s a professional, she knows what she’s doing, and I didn’t mention it. Then the other two housemates moved in, lets call them Claire and Dana.

Claire and Dana already knew each other – I think they'd been friends at school or something – but Bella and I didn't know them, or each other, before moving in. So we decided to all go out together as soon as our differing schedules would allow.

The first half of the night was really nice. Getting ready together, heading out, all that excitement. It didn't get nasty until we got back.

I don't know how it came up, we must have been talking about work, because I mentioned something about Bella's job up at the hospital. Claire and Dana flew off the handle. They accused Bella of lying to them, keeping this side of her work secret, putting us all at risk.

I pointed out that actually, I'm immune to corporeal infections for fairly obvious reasons. Which I realised wasn't helping when they started shouting at me...

They both stormed off, leaving me and Bella in the living room sort of stunned.

Now they're saying they want Bella to move out. They don't think it's fair that she should be risking their exposure to these conditions, and they both say they wouldn't have moved in in the first place if they'd known.

It seems like kind of an over-reaction to me. I don't see how Bella's job is any more dangerous than any other hospital job where you might come into contact with contagions and things.

Bella's miserable. Claire and Dana are presenting a united front against her. And I tried to stay out of it! But now they're saying I should get the make the final decision.

I don't really want to take sides here. But I don't think we'll hear the end of this otherwise. What should I do?

The Presenter (as themselves)

Firstly, I have some concerns about the underlying attitudes your housemates reactions seem to suggest. Claire and Dana may not realise this, but their reactions to this revelation speak of deep-seated prejudice.

Medical understanding of these types of conditions has come a long way in the last generation or so. The outdated stereotype of the mindless risen dead, bent on destruction and implacable in its pursuit of violence, simply does not reflect our modern reality.

Did you know that rehabilitation for the risen can be effective as much as two months after resurrection? And in the United Kingdom, 90% of all cases are identified, and treatment begun, within the first ten days of post-death vitality.

It's true that a very small percentage of individuals remain a danger to themselves or others. But the facilities for those individuals are extremely secure and, thanks to the tireless work of campaigners and activists over the last two decades, conditions within the facilities themselves are very much improved.

Still, the myth of the implacable hoard lives on. I have very little doubt that it's this kind of stereotype that your housemates are reacting to. If they gave the matter a moment's thought, they might realise that there isn't a medical professional in the country who doesn't understand the seriousness of these conditions, and the importance of keeping to proper containment procedure.

Your assumption that Bella “knows what she's doing” is perfectly sound. You need not be at risk of infection yourself to be able to judge the situation clearly, and you do yourself a disservice by dismissing your own perspective out of hand.

I would encourage you to try and solve this amicably, but it doesn't sound as if Claire and Dana are very much interested in engaging in a real dialogue over the issue.

I think the best course of action is to acknowledge that they certainly don't have to live with someone they don't want to – and to discuss how to manage their departure in accordance with the terms of your lease.

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

The Presenter

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[End background music]

The Presenter

Tonight's second letter is from a listener who finds themself in two minds.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

I'm sure I'm not the only person among your listeners who had a bit of a wild time while they were at university. I was reading theology – not the wildest cohort, we never had anything on the engineers or, God forbid, the medical students. But we held our own. There were nights. Substances. Experiments.

I fell down a bit of a rabbit hole, doing research around the nature of, uh... Well. The nature of the human soul. Specifically, whether a person could ever truly be good, and how you might excise those parts of yourself that are... less good. It was desperately naïve, looking back, but I was naïve. Couldn't help being, I was so young.

Most of the experiences I had at university were limited to university. But there are some lingering effects to that particular experiment.

It's better if I don't fight it. I tried at first. Tried to resist that itch that came over me when that side of me was trying to get out. But I found that the longer I fought it, the worse it was when it eventually took over. I don't really want to go into details. Let's just say, I did some things I'm not proud of.

Or, well- [sighs] Not me, exactly. Like I said, it's a part of me but when that other self is at the wheel, I'm... I prefer to think of it as sleeping. And after all, you wouldn't hold a person responsible for what they do when they're sleeping, would you?

Eventually, I found a sort of rhythm with it. I let it take the reins for a night every few weeks or so, and that seems to be regular enough for it to blow off steam.

As long as I don't keep it suppressed for too long, it generally limits itself to a bit of raucous drinking, petty vandalism – nothing outrageous. In fact, in recent years, I'm just as likely to wake up in my own bed, having overindulged in nothing more than a bottle of wine and a pint of ice cream.

Strange, I've... Well, I've almost come to feel fond towards this other side of me. It can't help being the way it is, after all. And there's part of me that's almost envious. There are days when, yeah, I'd love to just scream at the sky for a few hours. Set a bin on fire. Bite someone. Just a bit.

Only, it keeps messing with my things! It never used to – I might have woken up on a park bench after a bender, left to clean up the mess it made, but I would pay the fines and apologise and get back home and everything would be in order. It could do what it wanted in the rest of the world, but my house, my home, was my sanctuary.

Now though, I wake up and there's clothes all over the floor, dirty dishes all round the house, wet towels where it's decided to have a bubble bath – it never rinses out the tub – and my Netflix recommendations are a mess! Makes me want to cancel the whole account, teach it a lesson!

Well. [sighs] Now I've written it out it sounds silly. But it doesn't feel silly. I like my house, and there's a reason I live alone. I like having things the way I want them. But I don't know what to do!

I can't imagine it taking kindly to my drawing up a chores rota or leaving passive aggressive post-it notes on the fridge. It is, after all, the embodiment of my most immoral desires.

And I'm grateful that, as I've got older, my 'most immoral desires' tend to be more along the lines of eating an entire croquembouche in the bath and falling asleep on the sofa. I just wish they might sometimes also include 'doing the washing up' from time to time. Do I just have to put up with this?

The Presenter (as themselves)

Listener, I assure you, your concerns are not “silly”. This lack of respect for you and your home is not something you have to put up with.

I agree that reasoning with your other self isn't necessarily the way to go. As you say, it is driven by quite different values and priorities to your waking self. There is no point making a plea to compassion or even reason, because it has no investment in being compassionate or reasonable.

I also recommend you resist the urge to use punishment to get what you want. I appreciate that you might be feeling frustrated and disrespected, but I strongly suspect any attempts to “teach it a lesson” would backfire on you quite badly. The last thing you need is for this situation to escalate beyond the realm of dirty dishes and wet bath towels.

I think this self would respond more positively to a rewards system. Try to encourage the kind of behaviour you'd like to see more often by offering tangible rewards.

For example, you might let them know that, if they use their own profile on the television instead of yours, you'll make sure their favourite ice cream is in the freezer for their next emergence.

Don't overwhelm them in this early stage. Begin with one task you'd like to see completed by morning. Once your other self has seen that you follow through on your promises, and trust has been established between the two of you, then you can slowly introduce other requests.

This is going to take time, and I expect there will be some habits your other self will never really grow out of. But if you put in the time and energy, and concentrate on responding to your other self as it is, rather than as you wish it would be, I feel hopeful that you'll be able to reach a compromise that will suit you both.

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

The Presenter

You're listening to 131.3FM.

[End background music]

The Presenter

Next on the Nightfolk Network, stay tuned for our history series. The tension between rural and urban creatures was never more tangible than during the Industrial Revolution, when a booming population and...

[The Presenter's voice fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-a thousand percent increase-”, classical music and pop music before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

Episode Twenty Five of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.

This episode's first letter was based on a submission by Leslie. Thanks, friend!

To submit your own letters and suggestions, head over to our website at, email us at, or find us on Tumblr at Monstrous Agonies.

Hello and thank you to our latest supporter on Patreon, Lindsey! If you'd like to join them, head over to, where you can support the programme for as little as £1 a month. You can also help us by rating and reviewing on iTunes, and sharing the programme with your friends and familiars.

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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