I am Mr. Baxter
by Nick DiChario
This morning I woke from a nightmare about work and found myself transformed from a man into a cat: my one and only loyal companion, Mr. Baxter.
It took me a moment to realize what had happened. At first I was trapped beneath a pile of bed sheets. In a panic, I scrambled out from under the tangled heap and launched myself into the air. I landed on all fours, a small but powerful animal, hindquarters quivering like snapped springs, tiny heart tripping inside my constricted chest. It was then that I looked down at myself and saw what I had become.
Fur covered my entire body. I stood on four paws, claws curled tightly under my toes. My thin whiskers vibrated like the slimmest of tuning forks, and I could clearly smell each faint odor in the air — the crumbs nestled in the fabric of the carpeting, the woodsy scent of the furniture, the toilet water from the bathroom, the reek of my underclothes in the laundry basket. My ears twitched at someone’s plodding footsteps in the kitchen downstairs. I shook my head, snap-snap-snap, and felt the ka-snicker of the motion reverberate down the length of my kitty-spine to the stiff, shuddering tip of my tail.
I tried to scream, but all that emerged was a horrible, feline yowl.
Rather than attempt to make sense of what had happened to me — there would be no making sense of it, this much I knew from the start — I trotted downstairs to see who was in my kitchen. My first few steps seemed awkward, uncertain, but only because I was looking down at myself in disbelief, amazed at the feel of my four legs moving in tandem as smoothly as the rhythm section of an orchestra. When I directed my attention outward, toward my destination, my movements came fast and sure.
There should have been no one in my kitchen. I lived alone. The landlord was the only other person with a key, and he never came around, never wanted to be bothered by anyone or anything. I rented a condominium in an exclusive community known as Elderwood, with a nature reserve to the north and a revitalized urban community known as the Old Town Square just a few miles south, a quiet and cozy place to live.
I peered around the corner to find a man perched on the end of the sink, staring out the kitchen window at a sparrow. I tried to focus on him, but as my other senses had heightened, my vision seemed to have gotten weaker. Even so, I could see enough to know that he was not just a man, not just any man. He was wearing my pajamas. He was my general size and height and weight, and he had my floppy hairstyle. He — I — was completely captivated by the sparrow, had in fact knocked all the cups off the counter and tipped over the vase my mother had given me, spilling the African Violets on the windowsill.
Mr. Baxter did this very same thing every two or three days. It was his careless ritual, his way of telling me who owned the territory behind the sink. The way he sat awkwardly on the ledge, hunched over on his forearms, with a cat’s unique and singular focus, so locked in on the sparrow that nothing else in the world existed, all this confirmed my worst fears. As I had become Mr. Baxter, Mr. Baxter had become me. We had somehow traded places.
When the sparrow flew off, Mr. Baxter lunged after it and bopped his nose against the glass. Stunned, he scrunched his hawkish Roman nose (my nose!), turned away from the window, and jumped off the counter. It was a horrific sight, a cat, trapped inside a man’s body. None of his limbs performed in the way he’d expected. He crashed to the ground and scrabbled frantically in a circle, eventually coming to rest, out of breath and frightened, on his hands and knees.
Then he looked up and saw me. He’d not hissed at me once in all the years we’d been companions, but now, as he stared at me, I was a cat, and he had no idea that he was a man. He shot after me, but he was so large and clumsy in his human form that I leaped easily away. I could tell he didn’t want to stand on my two feet. He was nowhere near as comfortable in my body as I was in his.
He lost interest in chasing me almost instantly and began to claw at his pajamas. There was terror in his frantic movements, and I felt sorry for him, poor Mr. Baxter, as he rolled helplessly on the floor, the feel of my clothes against his newly naked skin undoubtedly driving him mad. I worried that he might hurt himself, hurt me, my body. A selfish thought, certainly, but if I were ever to reverse this horrible transmutation, I would need that body again, and I wanted it in good condition. I’d worked hard to keep it in shape, not easy once a man turns forty years old. I went to the gym every evening to relieve my stress, to think about the next day’s work and how I might raise my service levels or, in the old days of sales, get better leads and exceed my quotas.
Had my strenuous career brought on the metamorphosis? The traveling, the pressure to sell and outperform the competition and my colleagues, the airports and hotels and poor food and uncaring people — had it all somehow conspired against me to make this moment possible? These days I worked primarily from home, writing customized sales material for prospective clients, venturing out for important meetings only, often going days working on my projects with no contact at all with my employer or the outside world. I realized that this could now be a problem. No one would come looking for me anytime soon. I was on my own with Mr. Baxter, and Mr. Baxter with me, both of us trapped inside each other’s cages, until I could figure out how to reverse the metamorphosis.
I watched Mr. Baxter from a safe distance and thought about what to do next. I needed help, but how could I tell anyone what had happened to me when I could do nothing but mew and yowl? And how would I explain it even if I were the most eloquent speaker on the planet? There was no rationalization for going to bed as a man and waking as a cat, or vice versa. I had to do something. But what?
I decided the computer was my best bet. I might be able to use my claws to type out an email message to a person I could trust, someone who might be able to help me. I trotted over to my PC and pushed the start button with my forepaw. In the meantime, Mr. Baxter had managed to get my pajama tops off over his head, but he was having trouble with the bottoms. My human legs confused him. He thrashed ineffectually, failing to grasp how easily he might have done the job by simply reaching down, grabbing with my fingers, and yanking them off.
The PC booted. I jumped up onto my desk and looked out the window. From there I could just barely make out the red maples and lilac bushes and hills with their towering northern pines. The skyline was magnificent on a clear summer’s day, so clean and peaceful, one of the main reasons I’d chosen this condo. The rat race, the dog-eat-dog, had taken its toll on me. On the verge of a nervous breakdown, according to my physician. He was the one who’d insisted I change jobs. He’d set up an appointment with Dr. Waller, a psychiatrist, to help me with the transition. I was a little insulted at first. A man who has worked all his life and made a name for himself has a fair amount of pride. But my physician was adamant. He was afraid for me. In Japan, people regularly worked themselves to death. There’s a term for it. Karoshi. He thought I was headed down that road.
The computer turned on and asked for my password. I couldn’t read the screen, not perfectly, but I could see enough colors and shapes to help me do what I needed to do. I stood over the keyboard and stretched out my claws to get as much toe separation as possible. Fortunately I’d put off clipping Mr. Baxter’s toenails, which made it a little easier for me to type, albeit painstakingly, one letter at a time.
My eyes twitched at the flickering computer screen — at each slight movement in the room — a dust mote hanging in the air, a fly whizzing past, a wink of sunlight in my peripheral vision. I didn’t have anywhere near the hand-eye coordination I was used to, and depth perception was a problem, but years of habit came in handy, and I would have known my keyboard blindfolded. I struck the keys and tapped in my password. The computer logged me in to my home screen. The company logo appeared — a fuzzy but familiar blob — and my shortcuts popped up on the screen right where I knew them to be. I opened my email and saw that dozens of messages had come in overnight.
I didn’t have to open them to know what they said. Questions about deadlines. Can you rewrite this proposal for me? Will that brochure be ready by the end of the week? How long before I can expect to see a draft of the white paper we discussed on the 24th? My current job held an entirely new set of pressures that I’d never before experienced in sales. But none of it matter now. I doubted I could have focused my cat’s eyes long enough to read the messages even if I’d wanted to.
My distance vision was a little better. I saw that Mr. Baxter had finally managed to escape my pajama bottoms. He seemed to relax then, stretching out in the sunspot under the tall windows in the living room. I needed to keep a wary eye on him in case he decided to take another run at me. I couldn’t let him catch me. An angry cat with the strength of a man would tear me apart. But he seemed to have lost interest. I concentrated on the computer and began to think about whom I could write to and what I might say.
My boss? Impossible. He’d fire me on the spot, thinking I’d succumbed to the pressure and lost my mind. My mother? She was my only surviving relative, eighty-eight years old, living in a long-term nursing care facility. I’d bought her a computer a few years ago, set up her email account, showed her how to use it, but since then I didn’t think she’d so much as bothered to turn it on. Her conditions (many and complicated) had continued to worsen, and her memory returned her to her childhood, where she now spent most of her time. The last time I visited, she could barely recall my name.
My next thought was Dr. Waller. There was nothing more than a professional relationship between us, but I thought I might be able to trust him. We clearly liked one another, and under any other circumstances we would have been the best of friends. But Dr. Waller was a problem. He would most naturally think I was crazy. Even if I could convince him to come over and see me, I had to consider what he’d do once he got here. He’d see Mr. Baxter (me!) naked on the floor, or running around the house unable to form a simple sentence, and that would be the end of that. He’d consign me a psychiatric facility, and who could blame him?
Then what would become of Mr. Baxter (me)? Where would I end up? An animal shelter? What if proximity mattered? What if Mr. Baxter and I needed to be near one another, in the same house, for a reverse metamorphosis to occur? I had no way of knowing. I couldn’t take the chance of being distanced from him. No. How could I risk telling anyone anything? Who would ever believe that I hadn’t gone completely insane? That the naked man in the house was actually me, and the message I’d typed was evidence of my psychosis? I had to figure out a way to reverse the process before we were discovered. It was the only way.
Mr. Baxter rolled over onto his hands and knees and grew strangely tense. My hackles went up instinctively. I could smell him (me!) from across the room, textured and complicated, a tapestry of sweat and musk and human dampness that I never knew I carried with me. My whiskers shivered, such odd sensory sticks, tapping out a coded message of sight and sound and touch and smell. Every part of me stood at attention, afraid of my own cat — faithful, gentle Mr. Baxter — and what he might do at any moment.
But he just rose into an odd half squat and made his way gracelessly toward the kitchen. I always kept the basement door propped open so Mr. Baxter could get downstairs to his litter box. He began to conquer the steps one at a time. I followed him down the steps and watched as he found his box and scratched at the litter with my fingers. I knew what was coming next and had no interest in seeing it, and yet I could not look away.
He spread my legs over the sides of the box, balanced himself with my hands out in front of him, and defecated into the litter. He turned around and sniffed it, reared back, surprised, perhaps, that he didn’t recognize it as his own, and tried to bury it using my fingers as a rake. He made a mess of things, spilling litter everywhere, but I had to give him credit for trying. He was a good cat, after all.
He spotted me again, looked as if he’d noticed me for the first time, but on this occasion he didn’t attack, he made a startled, mad dash for the staircase and scooted up the steps as fast as he could. Maybe he was adapting to my human form, or his reckless speed helped him in some way. I was surprised at how quickly he made it, tripping and scrambling up the steps. He banged hard against the door when he reached the top and fell forward onto the kitchen floor.
I watched in horror as the door rebounded against the wall and came swinging back toward its frame. If that door closed, I’d be trapped in the basement!
I was on the move before the thought completely formed in my mind, faster than I imagined possible. I hit the landing with no more than an arm’s width of space to squeeze back into the kitchen. The wind of the passing lumber brushed back my fur and flicked my tail, and then the door slammed shut behind me.
Dear God! How close I’d come to being entombed. My tiny heart hammered in terror while Mr. Baxter plopped down on the floor in front of the pantry and pawed at the door. He was hungry, of course. I was too. He looked at me as if I could do something about it. He knew his box of cat food was behind that door. I knew my food was in the refrigerator. I had no idea how I was going to help either of us. The pantry door handle was too high for me to reach from the ground, and even if I could get to it, how would I turn the knob? As a cat I didn’t have the dexterity. It would be just as impossible for me to open the refrigerator. I had neither the strength nor the leverage to do the job.
Mr. Baxter crawled over to the water bowl and lapped at it until it was empty. I normally refilled his bowl every morning. Such a simple task. Pick up the bowl. Turn on the water faucet. Hold the bowl under the spigot. I would never be able to do it now. My skin rippled in frustration. I needed to think. I had both long- and short-term problems to solve. In the long run, I would have to figure out how to get me and Mr. Baxter back into our own bodies; in the short run, I’d have to keep us both alive long enough to do it. As each moment passed, our situation became more desperate. No food. No water. No way to communicate with each other or the outside world. Together we were a brain without a capable body and a body without a capable brain.
I left Mr. Baxter alone in the kitchen and padded upstairs to the bathroom to mull it over. I was famished and parched. I couldn’t do anything about the food, but I had left the lid up on my toilet bowl. To quench my thirst, I stuck my head inside the bowl and did what I had to do. I didn’t think about it. I couldn’t. It was like taking medicine. Close your eyes and plug your nose and down the hatch.
After that, I hopped up onto the toilet seat, squatted over the opening, and pissed and pooped into the well. I reached over to the lever and flushed the toilet, a simple enough task, even for a cat. I felt a little better after that. But what of my problems? Was I the only person in the history of humankind who’d ever fallen victim to this…this…change?
I couldn’t help thinking of Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.” His main character, Gregor Samsa, had woken from a restless dream to find himself encased in the shell of a bug. What if Kafka had actually lived through a transformation of some kind and returned to tell people about it in the only way he could, masked in fiction? Maybe his story hadn’t been total fantasy after all. Last night when I went to bed, I never would have considered such a mad notion. Now I clung to the possibility of it as a shipwrecked sailor clings to a life raft.
But the reality of my situation was inescapable. The long-term issue of reversing the metamorphosis was, at the moment, impossible for me to deal with. I had no idea how I was going to become a man again. So I thought about the short game, keeping me and Mr. Baxter alive. It seemed to me that my capable brain might teach Mr. Baxter’s capable body a few simple survival tricks. To do it, I would have no choice but to risk getting close enough to Mr. Baxter to show him a thing or two.
I padded downstairs and found him slumped against the sliding glass door in the dining room that led out to the backyard. It was his favorite spot. He would often sit there for hours, patient as he was, waiting for me to slide open the door so he might take a quick run outside. Every so often I gave in to him. I had access to a small yard enclosed by hedge-brush, and Mr. Baxter seemed satisfied with what little of it there was and had never tried to escape. But he didn’t look at all interested in getting out the door. He looked exhausted. And, truthfully, so was I.
It was as good a time as any to establish a level of trust between us. I approached him warily. He followed me with his eyes but made no movement. I walked up to him, poised to bolt at any second, and watched. But he slumped down a little farther until he lay fully on his side, a very cat-like pose, and closed his eyes. A squirrel dashed through the hosta plants in the backyard, and I fought the impulse to bolt after it. I craved a cup of coffee and a newspaper and a cigarette, of all things, which I’d given up eons ago. It was maddening to be both man and cat.
I curled up next to Mr. Baxter, and we slept.
When we woke a short time later, I felt more tired than when I’d nodded off. But Mr. Baxter seemed wide awake. He was licking my ear. While I had his attention, I decided to try and teach him how to get to his food. I trotted over to the pantry door and looked at him, hoping he would follow. He seemed to understand and lumbered toward me, a hapless Frankenstein.
I began jumping and swatting at the knob on the pantry door. He thought it was a game and began swatting too. I was hoping he might remember that I turned the handle every day to get his cat chow, and that he was now perfectly capable of performing the job all on his own, but he wasn’t getting it. I wondered if the idea of cat food even appealed to him. I wasn’t sure. I was craving people food, but that didn’t necessarily mean Mr. Baxter wanted Friskies.
I went to the refrigerator, cupped my paw around the edge of the door, and pulled with all my strength. I hadn’t expected the door to budge, and it didn’t, but I was hoping Mr. Baxter might try. He’d seen me do it a million times, but unfortunately I couldn’t hold his interest long enough. I guess he wanted to play. He decided to chase me around the kitchen. It didn’t go well for him. He knocked into the table and chairs and counters and cabinets like a stumbling ox.
I kept well away from him and eventually bounded up the stairs to my bedroom. He didn’t follow. I wasn’t sure if he saw where I went. I didn’t care. I was utterly exhausted and needed a rest. I curled up on the same bed that I’d woken as a cat. Maybe a good long sleep would fix things. I’d wake up inside my own body again, and Mr. Baxter would be Mr. Baxter, and all would be right with the world. I’d chalk it up to an accident of quantum physics, one universe briefly, unexpectedly intersecting with another, and then oh-so mercifully correcting itself to restore the sacred balance to the cosmos.
I closed my eyes and willed it to happen.
No such luck. When I woke hours later from a deep, coma-like sleep, I was still trapped in the body of a cat. The house was dark. I tried to read the clock on the wall. Was it midnight? I went downstairs. Mr. Baxter lay sleeping on the floor, snoring softly. I knew cats were nocturnal creatures, but knowing and experiencing are two very different things. I could see much better. All of my senses were on high alert. I felt free and safe and fully alive in the dark. I’d never felt anything like it. I decided to take advantage of it while Mr. Baxter slept.
I went to my desk, jumped up to the computer, and began typing this account. I wanted to document the metamorphosis as accurately as possible just in case the unthinkable happened and there was no turning back. It was beginning to look as if my only viable solution was to wait and hope and pray for a miracle of reversal. Not very proactive. And maybe not very likely. How long could Mr. Baxter and I survive without food? How long would it be before he seriously injured himself (me!) crashing around the house? How long could I let this go on? I might have to email someone after all, damn the consequences.
I’d read once that cats often slept eighteen to twenty hours a day. I could now state, unequivocally, from firsthand experience, that I believed it to be true. I typed all through the night, and by the end of it I was once again cripplingly exhausted. I fell sound asleep on my desk and didn’t wake until late afternoon. When I did, I saw that Mr. Baxter had figured out how to open the refrigerator. There was no way for me to know whether he’d done it purposely, but there were Tupperware dishes strewn across the kitchen floor, a spilled milk carton, a bowl of half-eaten chicken salad once covered in plastic, and a ripped-apart Styrofoam container of antipasto from Café Cibo that was so strongly glazed with garlic and vinegar it stung my eyes.
Mr. Baxter, nude and sated, sat like a zombie on the living room floor. At least he’d eaten. I knew I had to do the same. I went over and lapped up some milk, nibbled on the chicken, and licked the potato salad from one of the Tupperware containers. Then I heard Mr. Baxter get up. He tromped into the kitchen and came after me. I could tell that he wasn’t playing. He was angry. There was a stink, a nervous sweat about him (about me!) that alerted me to the danger. I ran.
He was more agile than he had been before, but still no match for my quickness. Even so, we were in a confined space. He had the advantage of size and strength. If he could have concentrated long enough, he would have caught me. But he was still a cat trapped in a man’s body, learning how to use his new equipment, and he hadn’t gotten any smarter. After a few inept lunges, he lost interest in me, went over to the sliding glass door, and stood there on my two legs. Looking very much human. The sight of it upset me more than I can explain.
That was where I left him. I went upstairs and hid under the bed, curled up into a ball and shivering. I understood too well what it meant to be a small, helpless creature in a man’s world, trying desperately to navigate the dangers of everyday life. It was Mr. Baxter’s inelegant banging around in the kitchen that finally brought me out again. Brrang! Clank! Krrack! He’d learned how to use his fists, apparently. I knew I couldn’t afford to cower any longer. I needed to know what he was up to.
I walked halfway down the steps and listened. A door swept open — the basement door. In all his pounding he must have figured out how to turn the knob. I waited until he reached the bottom of the stairs, and then I went into the kitchen. The pantry door was also open. Friskies lay pebbled everywhere. Banging on handles. Opening doors. A sign that he was learning?
I thought again about sending the email I did not want to send. Could I afford to wait any longer? What if Mr. Baxter figured out next how to open the sliding glass door? Or shatter a window? What if he got outside? I would be powerless to stop him. What if he smashed the computer in a random act of violence, leaving me no possibility of contacting the outside world?
I decided, then, that I needed to do something while I still could. I ran over to the basement door and threw myself against it. The hinges whined softly as the door inched its way closed. I heard the door shut and the latch click in place. I wasn’t sure how long it would be before Mr. Baxter figured out how to escape, so I ran to my desk to finish typing this account.
I have detailed everything about my metamorphosis as accurately as I could. I have not been able to go back and read any of it. I can see the movement of the letters across the computer screen, the light and dark places, but it’s too hard for me to focus on every word. I just have to hope that what I’ve written makes sense, and that beyond all else you believe me. I’ve decided to email this document to my full list of contacts. At this point, I don’t care who sees it. The more the merrier. As long as someone comes.
I’ve given a lot of thought to what has happened to me, racked my brain to come up with a series of logical events that might explain my condition. But there is neither rhyme nor reason to any of it. I’m sure you’ll think that I’ve suffered a nervous breakdown, the pressures of my job followed by a long period of forced isolation having pushed me over the edge. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered the same thing. Dear God, any sane person would.
All I ask is that you give me a chance when you find me (Mr. Baxter!) naked and unable to speak, seemingly stark raving mad. You must understand that he is just a cat and doesn’t know any better. Then please, please, give Mr. Baxter (me!) the chance to prove myself. If you have any mercy in your heart, set me down in front of my keyboard and allow me to type to you. Don’t ignore my words, crazy as they may seem.
As you must know by now, I did not send the email. I did not have time. Even as I was struggling with indecision it was already too late. The world had changed overnight, in inconceivable ways.
First, Mr. Baxter broke out of the basement. He was furious and chased after me. I ran. He knocked into my PC tower. Cables popped, disabling my modem. He got close to me more than once, but I dodged him again and again, panic sizzling through my small, tight body until I thought I would explode.
At some point he lifted a kitchen chair and hurled it at me. I have no idea how he knew to do such a thing. Maybe it was instinctive to his human form, just as running on four legs seemed to come naturally to me. The chair went flying by, struck the sliding glass door, shattering it to pieces. We both stood staring, shocked and uncertain.
Mr. Baxter immediately lost interest in me and walked toward the opening, sniffing the new air. He hesitated only a moment before stepping outside, crunching shards under my feet and slicing my shoulder on a piece of shorn glass as he went through, flinching at the sting, but barely noticing it. I knew what was on his mind — freedom — and I could not stop him.
I followed him out. My thought was to stick with him no matter what, not let him out of my sight. But the first thing I noticed on the other side of the door froze me in place. There, standing dazed and naked next to the poplar tree in her front yard, stood my neighbor, Maxine Grant, with her faithful calico Cleopatra at her feet.
Mr. Baxter walked past the hedgerows around to the front of the building. I chased after him.
There I saw more naked people out wandering aimlessly. More cats trying desperately to herd them.
A car had crashed into the light pole on the corner, its hood crunched in, the windows smashed and the doors thrown open.
Sirens sounded off in the distance. Something was burning deeply — a house, a store, a building. From the smell of it, and the rich, crackling sound of the flames, it could be nothing less than a five-alarm fire.
Everywhere, cats yowled and humans screamed.
Mr. Baxter kept going toward the Old Town Square.
I had to decide what to do. Continue to follow him, or return to my home? How could I leave my body, bloodied and exposed as it was, all alone in the world with Mr. Baxter? Every impulse in me demanded that I follow him. But I overrode them all. There was no way for me to know how widespread the affliction was, but under the circumstances I had to assume the worst. I decided it was more urgent for me to finish writing this account. I didn’t know if any other cats would have an opportunity to leave such a message to the rest of humanity, so I returned to my computer to document these final paragraphs.
I’m sure the crisis has been noticed all around the globe. Unless the metamorphosis is somehow confined to Elderwood, people everywhere must realize what has happened. There are more people than cats in the world, so there will be, for lack of a better term, human survivors.
I’ve tried to turn on the television so I could listen to the news, but my paws are too big for the small dots on the remote control. I have no idea what’s happening out there. It may take awhile for the authorities to get a handle on the problem, maybe a very long while if everyone in close proximity to their cats has fallen victim. But as soon as an effort is organized, there will be rescuers, and the scientists will begin working on a way to fix things for those of us who have been lost in our cats. I know they will. I have faith in science, even in the face of such an impossible occurrence as this.
Many of you will want to know how it feels to be a cat. I wish I could tell you. Do you feel yourself from one day to the next? Do you know what it is to be you? No, of course not. You eat your meals, walk and talk and sleep and go about your business day in and day out without thinking anything about it. You watch your lives pass slowly away with almost no physical feeling, as I have done for so many years. Unless you suffer through some horrible agony, you don’t even know you’re alive. I was no different.
I leave this document saved and open on my computer for the rescuers to find when they arrive — for you to find, whoever you are. I am going back out to track myself down. I’m sure I have not gone very far. I trust that my newfound sense of smell will help me find myself. I’ll do what I can to bring me home and wait for a cure, or at least keep us both safe and alive. If I don’t return, I pray these words survive me. I hope they will help those of you who have evaded the metamorphosis to understand what has happened to the rest of us who are lost inside our cats.
On top of my desk there is a photograph of me and Mr. Baxter. Indeed, those were happier days. Mr. Baxter was a kitten, and I a younger man with no sense of how fragile life could be. But it may help you identify us when the time comes. And the time will come. It must.
Don’t give up. We need you. All of us who were once just like you and are now cats. We are waiting.
Nick DiChario’s short stories have appeared in many magazines and anthologies in the United States and abroad. He has been nominated for the Hugo and World Fantasy awards, and his first two novels, A Small and Remarkable Life (2006) and Valley of Day-Glo (2008), both received nominations for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Novel of the Year. His two short story collections are The Winterberry and Other Strange Tales and Barbie Marries the Jolly Fat Baker and More Twisted Notions. Nick is an occasional book and film reviewer for Philosophy Now magazine. His first novel has been recently optioned for film. You can visit Nick’s website/blog at www.nickdichario.com.