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  • Writer's pictureH.R Owen

Episode Twenty Four

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Monstrous Agonies E24S01 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Twenty Four.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through classical music, pop music, and a voice speaking Irish before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-swarm sweet swarm.

Time now for our advice segment. Kicking us off this evening, a listener feeling insecure after a blast from the past.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I've always had sort of high standards. My friends used to tease me about how picky I am, they said I was caught up on finding Mr Right, I should concentrate on finding Mr Good Enough. But I knew, if I just held out a little bit longer, I'd get my perfect person eventually.

And... I was right! I mean, admittedly I didn't get all the details – could have saved myself some heartache if I'd realised a little earlier I was actually looking for Mrs Right, but I found her in the end! And that's what matters.

We met at a party and got talking. And kept talking. And talking, [laughing] and talking and then she was buying me breakfast and I feel like we haven't stopped talking since. I've never met anyone who gets me like she does. It's... It's incredible. She's incredible.

She was worried we were moving too fast but I told her, all the movies, everything I've ever read, it all says: 'When you know, you know.' And I knew. I wanted this woman to turn me.

I'm not her first turn. Her ge- Our genus! [laughs] It's not as popular as some for people looking to get turned, and because our condition's also hereditary, there isn't much of a culture of turning in the community itself. So I knew, for her to have turned someone else, they must have been really important.

She doesn't really talk about him. I get the impression things ended pretty badly.

I was around at hers the other day and I saw a box on her desk. I'd seen it before when I was over, tucked away on a shelf in her study but I'd never really paid it much mind. Looking at it I could see it was... kind of gorgeous – polished wood with this lovely, geometric pattern in the lid.

I didn't even think, I wasn't trying to snoop. But I guess curiosity got the better of me.

It was full old letters, and postcards, and keepsakes – bits of jewellery, ticket stubs, concert programmes. And photos. Of him. They looked so happy...

I just put it all away and kept my mouth shut. I just don't understand why she would need that. Why would she want it? What was she looking through it for, why now? Is- Is it because of me? Does she miss him? What if she looks at me and all she can think is how not-him I am?

I'm so new to this, I just feel really out of my depth and I don't know who to ask. Is this normal, is this just a normal sire thing? Does everybody have a box like this? Please, can you just tell me whether or not I need to be worried? And if so... Well, what... [sighs] What then?

The Presenter (as themselves)

First of all, listener, congratulations! Welcome to the community – we are better for having you.

I'm afraid your question about whether your sire's behaviour is “normal” isn't one I can answer. The relationship between sires and the people they turn can take any number of forms, from the romantic to the familial. Some people consider their sires to be their teachers, others experience sireship as a deep friendship.

There is so much variation in sireship that there is really no such thing as “normal”. It's complicated, and you needn't be embarrassed about seeking advice.

I'm struck by the careful, intentional way your sire has chosen to revisit her past. She keeps her mementos safe, in a box that speaks to how precious those memories are to her. But the box itself is kept tucked away, within reach if she needs it, but away from the centre of her life. That doesn't sound like someone living in the past to me.

It's very possible that having a new sire has brought up feelings about her previous turn. She may well feel some sadness about the situation, however acrimonious their parting might have been.

But sadness is not the same as regret. It is perfectly normal and healthy to grieve something while still accepting that it needed to end. And it certainly doesn't mean she regrets her new relationship with you.

Her past is not a threat to your present. As long as you continue to treat each other with honesty, kindness, love and respect, you have nothing to worry about.

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

The Presenter

This is an advert. If you are seeking a product, this advert is for you. We will not tell you again. The product is in stock. You will purchase the product. You will enjoy the product. This has been an advert.

[End background music]

The Presenter

Our second letter this evening is from a listener wondering what retirement might mean for them.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

I wanted to be a bus driver when I was little. A friendly face behind the wheel, making sure people get to where they needed to go. The obsession lasted until I was about five, when I decided actually I'd rather be a postman, or maybe an actor, or I was very into plague doctors for a while. I even made my own mask out of papier mache, though Mum flat out refused to let me have my own jar of leeches, though. Spoilsport.

Still, I can't help seeing the fingerprints of that first ambition on my life now. I've spent my whole career helping people get from one place to another, and keeping them safe on their journey. And I can't say how effective it was under the circumstances, but I've always tried to be a friendly face.

When I first took the job, they were very insistent I understood it wasn't permanent. They kept harping on about it – none of the transformations to my person that the job entailed would be permanent, my abilities and access to certain protected information was dependant on my holding the position... On and on!

At the time, I didn't understand why they made such a to-do about it. It was just a job. A pretty good one from where I was standing – newly graduated and staring down the barrel of the job market with nothing between me and the dole but a philosophy degree, of all things. Well, that and a small, rather battered plague doctor mask.

About a month after I started, a colleague of mine asked if I'd like to come out for a drink with him and the others. They were heading to the Horned Raven, down on Beak Street, and I asked why on earth they were going to a creature bar. He just stared at me like I was the stupidest person he'd ever met.

It took me a while to realise that, alright, I might not have changed genus or anything, but I certainly wasn't going about life in the usual way. I'm 128 this May, and don't look a day over 25. Not to mention, for the vast majority of those years, I've spent at least 40 hours a week moving in the space between worlds with the souls of the wandering dead for company. Not things your average sapio can claim.

It soon it felt like I'd been part of the community all my life. All my friends were creatures, even those I met outside of work. I stopped thinking of myself as sapio, lost touch with that side of my life entirely.

I remember thinking- I was on a bus, as it happens, this would have been, oh, '53? '54? I'd been out with friends and was making my way home – that strange, boozy unreality of the last bus. Steamed up windows. Streetlights and rain.

And I remember looking at the other passengers and thinking... My god! They have no idea. My whole life, this bubbling, exuberant world full of laughter and camaraderie – it's all happening right under their noses.

Even now, I don't know if they really see us. I don't know if I really want them to.

Well, now, I'm looking at that and I see I've written “us” and “them”, but this is the thing. I'm retiring. I love the work, but I've seen too many old-timers who've seen too much, and lost the joy in it. I don't want to end up like them. [sighing] I think I've earnt a bit of a rest.

I won't have my powers any more, and I'll start to age again at a more traditional rate. I won't have to work, thank goodness – between my savings and my pension I'll be able to live quite comfortably for, oh, 80 years at least. And by that big age I fully intend to have become someone else's problem.

Only, I don't know how I'm going to cope, going back to sapio life. I love being a person of the night. It's been a cornerstone of my identity for so long. How am I supposed to do without it?

The Presenter (as themselves)

The Horned Raven! Gosh, that takes me back! Uh, reminiscences aside, I'm afraid you've got yourself into a rather unnecessary tangle here.

Being part of a community isn't about meeting some arbitrary set of entrance requirements. This is especially true in the liminal world, which is by definition fluid and full of variation. Nobody has the authority to declare you unworthy to belong.

The creature community isn't some kind of external, immutable standard to which we are beholden. It doesn't exist independently of the people who claim it – it is the people who claim it. Your experiences set you apart from the sapio world. That's enough. You're enough.

The sense of alienation that some creatures feel towards the sapio world – that sense that they “don't see us” - stems from a lack of shared experience. But you've been an active part of the community for over a century. That history isn't going to suddenly disappear just because your situation has changed.

Put it another way. What would no longer being part of the community even mean? Are you intending to abandon your friends, and only associate with people outside the community? Will you allow yourself to drink in our pubs? Will you be permitted to listen to our music, but draw the line at dancing? To read our books, but only if you promise not to enjoy them?

Can you even listen to this radio station any more? It is, after all, the voice of liminal Britain. Perhaps I shouldn't even be answering you!

I hope you can hear how absurd this sounds, listener. Please, don't overthink this. Make the most of your retirement. Talk to your friends about any difficult feelings you might be having, and let your community support you. Because we are your community – and you are as welcome now as you have always been.

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

The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network – Don't touch that dial.

[End background music]

The Presenter

That's all for our advice segment. Next on 131.3FM, we're heading over to Cookery Corner. You've probably heard about the new superfood sweeping the community, but what exactly is gunk, and how can you use it...

[The Presenter's voice fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls inaudible speech and piano music before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

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

This episode's second letter was based on a submission by Catriona. 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.

You can support Monstrous Agonies by rating and reviewing us on iTunes, sharing the programme with your friends and familiars, or supporting us on

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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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