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Episode Twenty Six

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Monstrous Agonies E26S01 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Twenty Six.

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

The Presenter

-abandoned now, save for the lighthouse.

If you've just tuned in, you're listening to the Nightfolk Network. Next tonight, I answer listener's questions in our advice segment.

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

The Presenter

Brought to you by Sirona Springs – luxurious wellbeing retreats for the creature community.

[End background music]

The Presenter

Kicking us off tonight, a listener whose family member is finding it hard to adjust to some recent changes.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I recently took over the body of a young woman named Janey. As far as I can tell, pretty much everyone in her- my life is very happy with this new development. Based on the texts and Twitter posts I've seen, and hearing stories from our mother and our begrudging friends, it seems Janey was selfish, rude, and very closed minded. Luckily, now I’m better! And everyone is happier for it.

Well, most everyone. The thing is, her- my sibling doesn’t seem to be adjusting well, and it’s making it hard for me to really step into my new life.

My “change of heart” as most of my family is calling it, was not questioned much by anyone. Or if they did, they didn’t mention it to me. But my sibling, well they kept avoiding me and muttered rude comments.

So, after a few weeks, I confronted them because I believe in honest communication. Well, as honest as I can be in my circumstance. And they had the nerve to say that I was an imposter!

I tried to explain to them that change is a constant, and that we all are different people, and even after every few seconds our cells die and are replaced, and that this is simply a new stage in my life, blah blah blah. Everything that’s normally in the pamphlet.

But they just got angrier and said to [angrily] give them their sister back! I admittedly snapped here, lost my cool, as it were. I replied that their “sister” didn’t even call them by their chosen name until recently.

Their face went… cold at that, and they’ve stopped acting volatile, and instead seem... empty. I think I really hurt them. But I really don’t know how to fix it.

I don’t regret taking over Janey's life, and I won’t apologise for it, but I wish I could help smooth things over for them. How do you help a family member accept that the sister they once knew is now somebody else?

The Presenter (as themselves)

Listener, I worry you're oversimplifying the situation. Your new sibling's reaction to you suggests that their relationship with Janey was not as cut and dry as you have represented it here.

Let us allow that Janey was... not kind to her sibling. As selfish, rude and closed minded as she may have been, as long as she was still Janey, there was potential there for her and her sibling to reconcile. Janey could take responsibility for her actions, make a sincere apology, commit to the hard work of repairing that relationship. You can't. Your actions have taken that possibility from your sibling, irrevocably.

Every decision, every choice, every move we make in the world at once creates new potential realities and snuffs out others. Your arrival has extinguished every potential future where Janey as Janey made amends with her sibling.

I understand that you don't regret your decision to take over Janey's life, and I think you're quite right not to apologise for something you're not sorry for. But you need to take responsibility for the impact of your decision. And you must work harder to be respectful of your new sibling's emotions, and not dismiss them because you don't think they're reasonable.

You can't make them accept you. But you can acknowledge their feelings and give them space and time to work through them at their own pace.

Let them know that you appreciate your actions have hurt them, and that you take responsibility for that hurt. Apologise if you mean it, but only if you mean it. Do not insult them with empty words and platitudes.

If they reject you, I urge you to accept their decision with as much good grace as you can muster. After all, they might come round in time.

Our second letter this evening comes from a listener feeling isolated after a significant loss.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

I don't want to be melodramatic about this. I'm looking for advice, not sympathy and certainly not pity. I'm the last of my kind.

We are extremely long-lived and were always a very dispersed community, if it could really be called a community at all. Perhaps, if there had been a central organisation or some kind record-keeping body we wouldn't have missed the signs. But there isn't. Wasn't. And we did.

As we died, so did our history. By the time people realised it needed to be preserved, much of it was already lost. Still, I did a bit of digging and learnt about a tradition that maintains we were originally descended from an isolated colony on this tiny island in the Aegean Sea.

Naturally, my curiosity was piqued. I made my plans, and set off to see the old country. This was about a year after I got word that my final relative had passed away.

My hotel was on a different island – nice, touristy but nice. I got settled in and the next morning, took a boat over to- Well. I couldn't help thinking of the other island as 'home'.

I tried to be sensible. I didn't want to get my hopes up, but that's the thing about hope. It does tend to rise, regardless. As if I was going to get there and find a secret colony or something, like all these long lost relatives would suddenly leap out and shout, “Surprise! We were here all along!”

Of course it- It wasn't like that. I couldn't even tell what was ruins... and what was just rocks.

I remember standing there, the sky huge and blue overhead... Birds chattering and fluttering in the trees... The smell of flowers I didn't know the names of... The world simply going as it always had. As if nothing was wrong.

And suddenly there was someone there. Not one us, just nip that in bud. She called out to me, waved, I was too taken aback to say anything. She came over and introduced herself, her name was Alex and she was a researcher. What was she researching, I asked. “Why, you, of course.”

She showed me around, told me what I was looking at, what this wall might have been and what archaeologists had found in that ditch.

At one point she said, perfectly blithely, “Don't suppose you've got hoards of cousins and siblings hiding away somewhere, have you? Be a huge help for my thesis.”

“No,” I said. “No, I'm the last one.”

Her eyebrows rose. I braced myself. And she wrinkled her nose, and goes, “Oh, bad luck!” Like I'd just told her I'd lost a bet on the football or something. I was so surprised, I laughed out loud. I don't think I'd laughed for... at least a year. Maybe longer.

I spent the rest of the week with her. She knew more about us than I'd imagined, and I was happy to fill in the gaps in her knowledge where I could. And it didn't hurt then, you see? Doing that. Keeping the idea of them alive.

Then I got home and, well. I've had some bad months. About as bad as they can get, really. All the advice says 'talk to someone' but how on earth do I talk about this? Nobody has lost what I have lost. There is nobody left who ever had it to begin with.

And I don't know what to do with that. I have this... void in me, this rift, this abject lack. I don't feel like I can tell people, even, it's like I'm missing this thing, this part of a person that makes them a person. That makes them... real. What do I do, now? What... What do I do?

The Presenter (as themselves)

You keep going, listener. You do whatever it is you need to do to keep going.

You said you don't want sympathy, and I will endeavour to respect that. In terms of tangible, practical advice, I urge you to reach out to the Minority Genus Network if you haven't already. They specialise in advocacy and support for genuses with extremely small populations. I believe the cut-off is around 250 individuals or fewer, but they also represent those genuses with only a single known survivor.

Your feelings of being alone in your experience are valid. Nobody has ever or will ever experience quite what you have. They will never lose exactly what you have lost. But there are people who have lost their own communities, and gone through their own grief.

The degree to which you may find common ground with these people is not something I can predict. Two people might go through almost identical traumas and react quite differently. But it's important you understand you are not as entirely alone as you feel right now.

I also recommend you reconnect with this Alex woman. Engaging with your cultural history and documenting the extant knowledge of your people may help you to stay connected to them and perhaps even start to process your grief.

However, be mindful of how you engage with this. You are not responsible for the preservation or representation of your entire genus. If it feels healthier for you to focus on yourself, then please do so.

Finally, and I want to make this abundantly clear. You can talk about this. People need not have experienced your pain in order to support you through it. Empathy is a wonderful thing – the ability to feel what another is feeling, to put yourself in their shoes. But it is not the only path to kindness. Compassion is not dependent on comprehension. Your community can rise to this challenge – if you can let them.

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

The Presenter

131.3FM – broadcasting all the time, for all time.

[End background music]

The Presenter

It's two o'clock on Thursday morning. In our next segment, we're talking language. The liminal community in Britain is one of the most multilingual demographics in the country. But are minority languages like Abyssal, Astral and Enochian at risk? We talk to native speakers-

[The Presenter's voice fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-undermine US intelligence-”, pop music and folk music before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

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

This episode's second letter was based on a submission by Orbworb. 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, Esther! You can support the show for as little as £1 a month at You can also help us grow the programme by rating and reviewing on iTunes, and sharing 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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