PS: The Museblog Fest is here if you are looking for that, but you can read this too.
A Change of Mind and Other Stories consists of a novella, four short stories and one flash fiction piece. This collection puts the extremes of human behaviour under the microscope with the help of lashings of dark humour, and includes four pieces previously published in Writer’s Muse magazine.
“Not seen you in here before,” said the barman, while dispensing the frothy liquid into a glass. Fascinated by the collection of grubby beer mats on the ceiling, I was jolted by the fact another person was apparently trying to start a friendly conversation with me.
“Errm... I don’t get out much.”
Well, there it was. I’d revealed himself as a loser already, as if this guy didn’t already know.
“Why’s that, pal?” The barman put the dripping glass onto a stained towel covering the bar. I gazed into the bubbly liquid as if it held all the answers to life’s dilemmas. The urge to simply walk out was overwhelming, but I steeled myself and took a deep draught of the beer. It settled in my stomach and then seemed to radiate outwards, imbuing a sense of calm.
“Well, I don’t have any friends.”
I expected the barman to walk away and find something else to do, although there were no other customers at the bar, but the man remained where he was, absentmindedly running a cloth over the discoloured bar top.
“Seems to me, if you got out more, you might make some friends. Seems to me you’re in a bit of a vicious circle at the moment. What’s your name?”
“Reuben. I’m Dave. Now let me give you a bit of advice. When you came in just now like a drowned rat – I know, it’s not your fault it’s raining – you stood there like you owed the world an apology. Like you were sorry for using up air. And you looked like you were terrified of everyone. If you stood up straight, acted a bit more confident, you might get on better.”
I had to stop myself from rolling my eyes and telling the guy he sounded like my dad. Somehow, I didn’t think that would help.
But this isn’t your average surgeon. For a start, he operates alone in a small room above a mechanic’s. And he promises to alter his patients’ personality so they can be anything they want to be…
In Marissa, a man who is determined to find evidence of his girlfriend’s infidelity ends up wondering if he should have left well alone.
The Dog God finds a chink in the armour of a man with a megalomaniacal desire to take over the world.
In The Insomniac, a man who leads an obsessively regimented lifestyle on one hour’s sleep a night finds a disruption to his routine doesn’t work for him.
Hole In One sees a dedicated golfer achieving a lifelong ambition.
The Loner ends the collection on a note of hope as two family members try to rebuild their lives after they are torn apart by jealousy.
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Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those rare times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. When not working he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. He has four short stories published in Writer’s Muse magazine. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew.
Visit him at his blog or connect with him on Twitter or Goodreads.