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  • Writer's pictureH.R Owen

Episode Twenty One

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Monstrous Agonies E21S01 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Twenty One.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through static, singing, inaudible speech and classical music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-pennies on their eyes and on their tongues and behind their eyes and in their throats and embedded like nails in their fingers.

Up next on the Nightfolk Network, I answer listener's questions in our advice segment.

Our first letter tonight is from a listener who is starting to feel their age.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

Under the dark and in the dark, I am moving. I know my domain by touch and taste. I feel my way, reaching, shifting, inch by steady inch. Nothing reaches through the cold salt gloom from the world above. Nothing... except you. What are you, to sound so deep?

There are others with me in the dark. They sing slow tectonic songs and in the songs are stories. They say I have been here since the beginning. They say I am the beginning. The sunless dawn. First mover. The drowning and the drowned.

They offer up their prayers to me, singing prayers of salt and constant motion. I have grown vast on the fat of their belief. To them, I am unchanging and eternal. Within time but not touched by it. They are wrong.

Before heat and light, I was. There is no part of this world that was not once mine. But the world has changed. I have changed. I feel myself slowing. Growing heavy. Sinking into the silt. I doubt my own infinity. To end is one thing, but to be ending... I will not fade.

Is this fear?

The Presenter (as themselves)

Well, it's always good to hear from our listeners outside the UK! Thank you, listener, for getting in touch.

You are certainly not alone in your anxieties about growing older. But many of these anxieties are rooted in misapprehensions about what later life entails.

You say that you “will not fade” and I agree! Aging is not synonymous with diminishing. You are not becoming less than you were. You are becoming other than you were, but that is no bad thing.

I hear your concern about the possibility of your own mortality. For clarification, as I respond to this issue I will be using terms like “death” and “dying” to mean permanent and irreversible termination of life in all its forms. I understand that many of our listeners may be enjoying post-death vitality, and I don't mean to dismiss this experience. But language has its limitations, and I must make do with what I have.

So then, to death. It can be hard to face the idea of one's own ceasing. But

many mortal people, even those with relatively short lifespans of 100 years or less, are able to live rich and fulfilling lives even under the spectre of their own demise.

It may be tempting to ignore your suspicions of mortality and continue on as you have before. After all, you have lived this long without feeling your age. It seems reasonable to assume that if your death is possible – or even inevitable – it will not come to pass any time soon.

Nevertheless, it's important you face the possibility and start to process your feelings on the matter. It might help to engage with cultures wherein death is the norm. There is a wealth of poetry, art and philosophy available that could help you explore the topic more deeply.

Quite how you can access these resources in your position, I admit, I'm not sure. Are there... libraries down there? Please, forgive me my ignorance. I confess, I am not as well-travelled as I would like.

Remember – death is not the same as non-existence. A world in which you are dead is not identical to a world in which you never were. Even the shortest life changes the world forever. The echoes of your existence will resonate through the universe for as long as there is a universe to hear them.

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

The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network, brought to you by Fangtastic Teethbrushes. For teeth so bright, you won't need sunlight!

[End background music]

The Presenter

Our second letter tonight is from a listener in a relationship that isn't developing quite as they'd expected.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

I don't know if you remember this – it didn't make the news or anything, but I know you're pretty involved in the community so it might have come to your attention all the same.

The whole thing had been building for the last few years. It was just rumblings at first – unusual spikes of power here and there, changes to some species' migratory patterns, a few unexpected appointments to certain offices. Easy to miss on their own but put it all together and a pattern emerges. Someone, or rather, a small but determined group of someones, very carefully and quietly putting all their ducks in a row.

I'd rather not go into details about what exactly they were up to. I don't want to be giving people ideas. Let's just say it was the kind of plan that ends in a world a bit like ours but where everything and everyone is on fire.

That's not a metaphor – there were going to be flames, and rivers of blood, and mountains of bones, and [grandiose voice] thing set loose from the bowels of the earth where they were once entombed. I mean really, why is nobody ever trying to bring about apocalypse by chocolate fountain? Now that's an Armageddon I can get behind!

I work for an organisation that specialises in this sort of thing – putting a stop to them, I mean. This time around though, things got messy. Turned out one of our higher ups – one of the highest ups, actually – was rather heavily involved in the other side. Which did explain our lack of progress, anyway. And why she fired me as soon as I started to put things together.

I went freelance. Or rogue, if you like, though that sounds more dashing that I think I can pull off. I teamed up with a contact I had – another freelancer, though in his case, rogue would be applicable. He is roguish. And dashing.

My partner and I found ourselves travelling up and down the country, gathering information, performing rituals, visiting the ancient sites of power, that sort of thing.

Mostly though it was just driving. And lots of it. I think I've seen just about every service station in Britain at this point, and at least half its Travel Lodges. Lots of car games and late night conversations and... Well. We grew close. At least, I thought we had.

Things came to a head last summer. That would have been when it crossed your radar, if at all. Everything suddenly burst out into the open, culminating in a rather dramatic showdown. I got to use a sword.

And we won! Obviously we won. You can tell because everything isn't screaming. And since then... Well. I rather thought – or hoped – that things between my partner and I would... progress. I don't mean sex. Well, I don't not mean sex. I mean, look, I don't even know if he- Personally, I can take it or leave it, but- [sighs] I just thought there'd be something, alright? Something different.

He's a very internal processor. Goes quiet when he's working things out. And I thought that's what he was doing. Working it out. But it's been months.

I can't bear the idea I might have got this wrong, but what if I say something and he doesn't feel the same? I can't do it, I just can't. I'm not brave like him.

The dust has pretty well settled now. Things are getting back to something like normal – they're rebuilding the organisation, even offered me my old job back. I haven't accepted yet though. I suppose I'm waiting for him. How long should I wait?

The Presenter (as themselves)

That was you?! Of course I remember last summer – a cataclysmic event that threatens to irrevocably upset the balance of power across the known universe is not the kind of thing you forget! Believe it or not, that 'kind of thing' makes itself known regardless of whether it makes it to the nine o'clock news. “Not sure it crossed my radar” - my dear listener, that particular escapade crossed every radar in this world and five worlds either side.

I suppose thanks are in order. If the organisation you mentioned is the one I'm thinking of, it can't have been easy to extract yourself from its clutches. For what it's worth, I think you're well off out of it there. Even with a change in management, that particular organisation has a tendency towards sapio-centrist practices, resource hoarding and a comprehensive lack of transparency around their activities that make me... wary of their intentions.

To answer your question, I don't believe you should be waiting at all. I understand that putting yourself out there is a frightening thought, but you cannot simply wait in silence and expect your partner to know what you want. It's not fair on either of you.

The two of you were thrown together by circumstances beyond your control, and bonded while going through an exceptionally stressful period in both your lives. It may be that your partner doesn't know what your relationship looks like in this new, peaceful context.

Perhaps he thinks that, as the rest of your lives return to normal, you will want your relationship with him to do the same. With no indication from you to the contrary, what else is he supposed to think?

Bravery in the face of danger is very different to bravery in the face of love. It's your turn to be brave now, listener. Good luck. And, really – don't take that job.

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

The Presenter

You're listening to 131.3FM, home of the Nightfolk Network.

[End background music]

The Presenter

Next, are you up to date in your biological waste disposal? With new recycling guidelines coming into effect next month, we run through what exactly you should be doing with your unused remains...

[The Presenter's voice fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through pop music, country music, a voice saying “-never-”, static, a voice saying “-it has been living in our family-” and static before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

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

This episode's first letter was based on a submission by Beth. 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 to our latest supporter on Patreon, Libby! Thanks for your support.

If you'd like to join them, head over to You can also help us grow the programme by leaving us a review 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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