Pseudopod 009: Counting From Ten

By Michael Montoure

Read by JC Hutchins

Jack shoved his chair back, stood, backed away, turned at the last minute and carefully did not run down the hallway to the bathroom. He walked, and raided his medicine cabinet for gauze, alcohol, tape, anything that looked useful.

He came back, led Tommy over to the kitchen sink, and carefully pulled the bandages off.

Tommy’s right hand had only the ring finger and thumb left.

October 27th, 2006 11:02 am

Wow, a very different kind of story from the last few. I liked it. It was like a mix of Stephen King’s Thinner, and Final Destination, though with a different dynamic at work, being centered around a troubled but strong friendship.

JC Hutchins’ reading was great too, though after 7th Son I can’t help but think that this sounded like a conversation between John and Kilroy 2.0 (though without the messiah complex).

October 27th, 2006 12:40 pm

I agree, today’s show defintiely reminded me of King’s Thinner. Nice twist at the end!

For those of you who are interested, I interviewed Mur about Pseudopod on my podcast, which is called Small World. You can find the interview at or download it directly from

Paul from Des Moines
October 27th, 2006 2:45 pm

I hear that! Very good story. And JC’s reading of it did it quite the justice it deserved. Looking forward to next week!

October 27th, 2006 6:20 pm

Great story.

My favorite part was the son of the decesaed ring owner using the return of the friend as an opportunity to mess with the person responsible with his mothers death.

Too many stories like this end with a forgiving and magnamous family ending the curse.

Forget that!

October 29th, 2006 2:38 pm

I did like this story, it was a bit slow to start but sped up nicely. I always enjoy stories where nice people (‘nice’ admittedly being something of a moveable feast) have to do horrible things. And the betrayal by the son of the woman who cursed Tommy, well, even though you could tell something of the kind was coming Mr Montoure wrote so well that those kind of moments are like when the band plays your favourite song at a gig. All together now…!

And I’ve just listened to the episode of Small World with Mur on. I’m sorry if I offended you in previous weeks. I really liked your introduction this week. While I agree that you don’t want to do a Steve Eley I don’t think there’s anything wrong with welcoming people in.

October 29th, 2006 4:58 pm

Mur, I really love your writing. Your stories at Escape Pod and on Podiobooks are some of my favorites, but this week you committed one of my pet peeves: “Edited by … and myself.

I have stolen this explaination from ?A Way With Words? from KPBS:


4.? How did the misuse of the word myself come to be? Everyone now says, “Jane, Robert, and myself are going to the movies” and “They awarded trophies to Jane, Robert, and myself.” Do people use the word myself because they don’t know whether or not to use the word I or me?

We congratulate you on your penetrating analysis of the epidemic that we have dubbed the Myself Reflex. The most succinct statement that explains why so many speakers and writers misuse, abuse, and overuse the pronoun myself was cobbled by Red Smith, the graceful New York sportswriter: “Myself is the foxhole of ignorance where cowards take refuge because they were taught that me is vulgar and I is egotistical.”

In other words, speakers and writers are often addlepated or chickenhearted about choosing the proper cases for their pronouns: the nominative case ? I — for subjects and the accusative case ? me — for objects. The only three contexts in which myself should ever appear are:

(1) as a reflexive pronoun used as an object of a verb whose subject is the same: “I hurt myself climbing the walls of my home.”

(2) as an intensifier: “I myself wouldn’t be caught dead bungee jumping.”

(3) in special idioms: “I removed the popcorn from the ceiling all by myself.”

October 30th, 2006 4:54 pm

Now this is more like it! Some good old-fashioned, inescapable doom. And it didn’t begin with three thousand words of dialog or descriptions of business meetings. What a concept!

All joking aside, this is the best tale I’ve heard on Pseudopod. Nice work. I did find myself a little irritated over yet another use of an all-too-common setup, i.e.:

Bumbling, dishonest “cursed” character shows up at an apartment in middle of night to recount his woes and begin a series of horror-related events whereby he is aided by a reluctant, condescending but ultimately loyal “friend” character.

…The reason for this is it’s a staple done to death in horror. Go check out “Absolution insured” over on Variant Frequencies if you want to see what I’m talking about.

Thing is, who cares? Like “Absolution Insured”, this piece works great. And the ending is both poignant and manages to clamp down hard.

October 30th, 2006 10:25 pm


The best story on Pseudopod to date!

October 31st, 2006 1:21 pm

I loved the story, but this is the first one I had to skip portions. Squeamish + Finger Loss + Driving = Bad Juju

Keep ’em comin!

October 31st, 2006 3:36 pm

Sat down and listened to all nine episodes over the last few days and so far this has been the best. I love that it is subtle for a while and then just plain gruesome! Great listen, thank you.

October 31st, 2006 5:30 pm

Odd things going on with your site. I can’t get your latest cast (#9) at any faster than about 4Kn/sec. This means It’d take me an hour to download it. I do like to listen but hmm, just checked and it’s speeded up to about 22KB/sec. not great but still faster. Have you had any other complaints about transfer speed? Please note I normally get your casts down in about 2 1/1 mins so half an hour is rather unusual.

October 31st, 2006 5:59 pm

Alan, being all hallows eve the entire world is coming to pseudopod for their creepy fix. The bandwith is being a finite resource and must be divided amongst many downloaders. Wait for it, it’s worth the wait.

Colin F
November 1st, 2006 12:03 pm

Myself enjoyed that story. :-)

I thought the balance struck by the author was just right. Gruesome enough to make you feel slightly queasy but not so much that you coudn’t listen on.

Didn’t see the son’s double-cross coming. I groaned out loud at that point – on the way from my car to the office – and got a strange look from two other employees!

November 1st, 2006 1:07 pm

The first story that REALLY gave me the creeps and made me squirm. Dunno if I liked that or not.

November 1st, 2006 8:32 pm

A definite THRILLER! :0)

November 2nd, 2006 8:17 am

This is my favourite Pseudopod since Bagman – nice work and one of the best readings i’ve heard in ages.

It looks like every had a pet pieve over a different cliche in there which I suppose says more then about us readers than the writer – who was clearly using the old trick of using the cliche’s to scaffold the tension. Personally, I had trouble with the “abused mysterious old lady with a ring” cliche, I’d really have prefered another reason for the horror than a straight “curse”. Please, no mysterious gypsy wenches from the east!

Nonetheless, this one stuck with me.. Nice stuff!

November 2nd, 2006 11:20 am

Great return to form, loved this story.

Certainly stuck with me this week, Keep ’em coming!

November 3rd, 2006 1:52 pm

For me this was the first real HORROR story on Pseudopod.
I have enjoyed all of them and several of them would be counted among my favorites but for me this is the first to really fall into MY category of horror. Really squeamishly, uncomfortably enjoyable.

As for the stories use of cliche’ gimmicks … sure there were a few, but they were well used. I am reminded of when I first heard “Greenday” getting airplay and I commented to a friend on how much I enjoyed them. He responded derisively “They’re just doing The Clash”.
“True” I responded “but I LIKE The Clash and since The Clash ISN’T doing The Clash anymore I’m glad someone else IS!”

So, as far as I’m concerned if your going to reuse stuff in creating your new story it’s A-OK with me … just as long as the end result is as good as this. :)

November 4th, 2006 11:47 am

Holy crap! An actually good story on here!

The characterizations were perfect, the reader was actually capable of expressing emotion, frustration, helplessness, bewilderment, etc. It was wonderful. Mur even spoke a bit, and dropped that “I swear it’s true” childish horse shit.

Mur, pay attention here. KEEP DOING THIS.

November 5th, 2006 7:38 pm

I take it back. I do have one complaint abou this story. It came to me today while I was doing…stuff.

Where were the smells? What did the girl smell like? Perfume? Sex? What did his idiot buddy smell like? Funk & fear? What did the antiseptic smell like when he was cleaning the wound? How about the hospital? What about the smells of the old house? If there were that many people there, food would have been served.

I liked the story, but I couldn’t really identify what was missing until I remembered the lack of fully sensory descriptions of place. Smell is an important one.

It also makes me wonder what the rum tasted like. Was it good, or cheap, or coconut, or..?

November 10th, 2006 7:03 pm

Bravo. My favorite story so far. Great characters.

November 15th, 2006 10:22 pm

Spork: You’re going to feel really bad when you find out that the author lost his nose in a horrible accident when he was a kid. Hey, maybe that would make a good story!

j/k Loved the story! thanks!

Steve Feldon
December 4th, 2006 7:29 pm

I’ve known Michael Montoure for nearly fifteen years, and I was one of the people who urged him to submit to Pseudopod. At a more personal level, I’ve gamed with him–Vampire: the Masquerade–and so I have been personally scared by him. I’ve read his writing both published and unpublished.

This was the best possible presentation of Counting From Ten I can imagine, even better than reading the original text. . . .

December 16th, 2006 4:42 pm

went on a little long but… yes, nothin like good ol fashioned finger reduction to bring on the heebie jeebies.

February 24th, 2007 1:35 pm

A great story from beginning until end…

Jc, you should read all of the stories, i love the way you express yourself while reading…. It shows alot of emotion!

I almost had to go to the bathroom from such excitement!

Definitly a keeper!

Pseudopod, keep up the good work!


Mari Mitchell
April 2nd, 2008 7:33 pm

This one was okay.

Do not get me wrong, I did not think it was poorly written or read, the story simple did not appeal to me.

I do agree with Mur, it is really about friendship.

Should Mur read this, my mother liked horror too.

January 17th, 2009 6:55 pm

I liked it and i believe that i could do it…aslong as my friend was passed out and not able to scratch me to death, but then again i’m not sure she could with only two fingers.