Greetings

Welcome to the website of writer David Bishop, also known as L.P.Mergle. Here you’ll find collections of my short stories and other pieces of fiction and non-fiction all handily organised into the menu to be read at your leisure. The latest short story can be found by scrolling down. You can also use the ‘tag cloud’ to browse the posts by genre.

Feedback and discussion on anything are thoroughly encouraged. You can do so either in the comments section on each post or page, or by using the ‘Ask the Author’ page located in the menu.

Prospective employers are invited to look at my Portfolio.

Fan Fiction: The River Skirmish

I’m calling this short story a fan fiction because I’ve based it on the Magic: the Gathering trading card game. I did it as a form of writing exercise, attempting to dramatise the game and describing everything that happens more as if it were an actual battle rather than a card game.

For any Magic fans out there they might be able to pick out the cards I was using, they’re all from the Kamigawa block. As this was something of an experiment I thought I would use my personal favourites and keep them thematically correct, i.e. all from the Kamigawa universe. Nothing happens that did not happen in the card game I recorded my notes from, though I did use some creative licence. For example; I chose not to include planeswalkers, as in the players, but felt it would be better to have the forces arrive on the battlefield rather than be summoned magically and follow orders without question or motivation. Consequently that meant whenever a creature attacked I described them as fighting another creature rather than hitting an invisible life total, so any fighting where a creature isn’t killed is an indication of a direct attack against the other player.

If you’d like to read it it’s right here, but be warned it is essentially just a large fight scene.

Wahacan Chilli’s

I enjoy cooking and for a while now have been working through a Mexican phase inspired entirely by Thomisina Miers and her book ‘Mexican Food Made Simple’. I was thrilled to go to her restaurant Wahaca and taste some of the most amazing food I’ve ever had and I can’t wait to get the chance to go again.

When we left the restaurant we took with us what we assumed to be matchstick books, as souvenirs left on display outside the entrance. It wasn’t until a few days later that I discovered they actually contained Serrano chilli seeds, on sticks for easy planting. There’s also a guacamole recipe included so that you have something to use the chillies in. I thought it was an incredibly novel idea and have put my less than green fingers to the task with pleasing results. I have four of the five  sticks sprouting and they are growing strong as you can see:

Serrano chillies from Wahaca

I can’t wait to cook with the fruits of my labour, there will be much Mexican food once they have fully grown.

 

 

Short Story: Cecily’s Carnival Caper

I’ve written a brand new short story, as with all my short stories I’ve given it its own page. You can find it in the menu and by clicking this link here.

I was asked to write this story by a friend of mine, so that she’d have something to read on the train. The deal was to use three ‘ingredients’ and a theme she gave me to come up with the short story and she would do the same. The three things were cat, mask and snowdrop, all wrapped together with a carnival theme.

My immediate idea was to go with an Alice in Wonderland-ian adventure, which bled through to the final idea where the main character, Cecily, goes on an imagined journey with strange occurrences. The cat, Felix, took the place of the White Rabbit, being the one who leads Cecily to this other world and being more than he seemed once there. My original intention with the mask was to make it a single magical mask that each character wore and became a different person whilst wearing it. Felix was always intended to turn human when he wore it. However it didn’t lend itself well to the ‘was it imagined?’ idea and restricted the characters to only being present one at a time. Instead I settled on a Wizard of Oz-esque ‘and you were there, and you, and you,’ with each of the people Cecily’s sees at the carnival turning up in her imagined world, those wearing masks turning into the animals they represent and Felix doing the opposite.

If I was to make the story longer and more involved I would have stepped up the mystery element of it and been more subtle with the imaginary versions of the carnival workers. I might also retain the romance angled I had originally envisioned between Cecily’s father and the sideshow proprietress, and thus bother to highlight that he is a single parent. Her brother would also have taken on a far more developed villain role and Cecily would have travelled through a range of locales in the imagined world and not just traipsing through a forest for five minutes.

The snowdrops appear thrown into the story at the last minute. They are actually the first scene I came up with after doing some quick research on the meaning of the flower as a symbol of hope and the coming of Spring. There is also a story of the snowdrops growing out of snow-laden ground which is where I took the idea from.

I hope you enjoy reading the story.

Rewritten: The Tower

I’m sure I don’t need to tell the writers out there of the importance of rewriting. Whether fiction or non-fiction a rewrite can turn something mediocre into something great. I know a lot of people finish a piece of work and read through it only to think: ‘This is crap.’ Fortunately for me I usually finish and whilst I don’t think I’ve crafted the next Shakespearian masterpiece I  think: ‘This is okay.’ That doesn’t mean I don’t rewrite it. Everything I write will always get at least one rewrite once finished, which will include the usual spell check and punctuation corrections but also the rearranging of sentences to make them more pleasing or better to understand. Often entire paragraphs will appear and disappear during a rewrite and in particular if a plot point late in a story is changed I need to go back over the rest in order to maintain the continuity.

Sometimes though a complete rewrite is needed. The same idea, the same writer but a second go. The difference can be astonishing. My story The Tower, which was the first short story I wrote solely for this blog needed rewriting. I felt I had made a mistake by making it about the character, The Master Builder (The laziness of me not even naming him speaks for how unimportant he was.) I used him as a means to describe the world around him, the world of this tower on which all these people live. But I realised that the character that embodied the themes of the tarot card on which is was based was not The Master Builder, nor one of the actually named characters Nebuchadnezzar and Nimrod, not even of a human. The central character is the tower itself, a building and home that the inhabitants treat more like an idol and a god. So I rewrote the story to tell it from the tower’s point of view. Whether the story itself is better I can’t say, but I feel it now fits better with the theme of its tarot card and the theme of the short story collection Le Cirque Des Moirai in general.

If you’d like to read the rewrite it’s on this page here: The Tower

Sunshine Blogger Award

Sunshine Award Sunflowers

I was nominated for this blogging award by englishgameruninhibited, which is very gratifying and a nice ego boost, making me doubly glad I stumbled upon his nice gaming blog.

I tried to look into the origins of the Sunshine Blogger Award but couldn’t turn up much, other than the existence of several possible pictures to display it and, in classic word of mouth fashion, varying rules as it has been passed from one person to another. It seems to be an award for bloggers who have inspired others with their blogging and is a nice pat on the back for us lesser known bloggers.

So the rules as used by englishgameruninhibited:

List ten things about yourself and…
Nominate 10 other bloggers.

Ten things about myself:

  1. I love a fantasy story, it’s why I read it and write it.
  2. I enjoy picking holes in blockbuster movies that get their mythology wrong.
  3. I think games are one of the best storytelling mediums.
  4. I’m scared of heights.
  5. I love Studio Ghibli films.
  6. My favourite film, however, is Labrynth.
  7. I’m more scared of you than you are of me.
  8. The X-Men are my favourite superheroes.
  9. I like cooking.
  10. I can watch episodes of Miranda again and again and never stop laughing.

Ten people I nominate for the Sunshine Blogger Award

  1. http://morethanablackcoffeegirl.wordpress.com/ – MoreThanABlackCoffeeGirl writes entertaining short stories about her nan, they’re great.
  2. http://lolly101lu.wordpress.com/ – Lolly101Lu is an artist starting her own business, I admire the dedication it takes to do something like that, plus her watering cans make her blog colourful.
  3. http://yoshikyon.wordpress.com/ – Yoshiykon blogs A-Zs of things gaming related. He has a lot to say and delivers it well so that it is always a worthwhile read.
  4. http://lefthumbstick.wordpress.com/ – LeftThumbStick blogs about games he enjoys, I love it because it’s not all about modern games, but any he’s enjoyed. And maybe I’m just nosy but I like to check up on his ‘Daily Bytes’.
  5. http://ericalagan.net/ – Eric is inundated with awards and isn’t accepting them anymore (He’s already got the Sunshine one several times). Consequently I’m not technically nominating him for it, but I felt the need to mention him and his blog as he is incredibly friendly and greatly supportive of new and existing bloggers. He’s also a great writer, so there’s that too.

That’s only five because I haven’t really been blogging all that long.

Weekly Story: The World

The last story has now been uploaded: The World. Again its title is after the tarot card of the same name, I went with a rather self-indulgent and literal translation of the card. As such the story is not so much a story, but like Wheel of Fortune before it, more of a description or encyclopaedia entry. It describes the world in which all of my Le Cirque Des Moirai short stories have been set, though some stories have vague settings and haven’t been placed. As a side note, the are too many stories to fit neatly in the menu so please either click a direct link or go to the Le Cirque Des Moirai page to find the list of stories.

You might have noticed I called this my last story, that is because I have made my way through the major arcana cards of the tarot from which I was drawing my story ideas. I’m going to take a break and return with a new idea, probably after Christmas, this time focusing on writing episodes following a character and single story, as I have been told that the problem with short stories for many people is that they end before they’ve really gotten to know the characters, is this the case for anyone else?

I am also toying with the idea of continuing story writing for the tarot, using the lesser arcana, but writing them much shorter as flash fiction. I am slightly wary of the medium however as I have never gotten a good grasp of how long, or indeed short, a flash fiction can be, whilst still being considered a flash fiction. Feel free to illuminate me on the subject.

For anyone who is curious as to the placement of my short stories in the countries mention in The World they are as follows:

The Tower, The Magician and Death all take place in The Plains of the Fallen, before they are called that.
The Empress is in the faerie lands, specifically The Land of the Flower Fairies.
The Hanged Man in Samsara.
Justice in Gekh
The Chariot in Vulia, and in the future The Lovers too.
The Hermit in Breton.
Strength and my flash fiction, Magic in the Kitchen, in Deutcheim.
The Devil, Rite to Live and the introduction to Le Cirque Des Moirai, take place in Oerlis.
The Fool in the untamed northern lands.
The Hierophant in the mystical east.
The Star, and my unpublished novel (A little sneak preview), take place in Pheone.
And finally Temperance takes place in Norgardt.

The short stories are staying up and I would be very greatful for any feedback any of my readers can give.

The Scariest Game I’ve Ever Played

I’m not talking about Dead Space, no, the scariest game I’ve ever played is Might and Magic VI. Not a scary game in any traditional sense, it’s not a thriller or survival horror or even a murder mystery. But there are certain qualities of it that have me on the edge of my seat with tension building in my throat and a nervous fluttering in my chest as I play it.

MM6

Not actual gameplay.

For those of you unfamiliar with the game it’s a first-person, dungeon crawler, sandbox game, akin to a computer version of tabletop Dungeons and Dragons, or a very early version of Skyrim. It’s also an old game with a graphics quality that is laughable by today’s standards. You create a team of four characters choosing their classes and starting stats and a portrait to represent each one. After a bit of story fluff you’re hurled into the starting town and left to your own devices. After which you’ll do the typical Morrowind and Baldur’s Gate stuff: talk to NPCs, kill random monsters, explore dungeons and loot everything that isn’t nailed to the floor.

Nothing particularly scary so far, but the first thing to learn is that death lurks behind every corner. The game can be quite difficult, perhaps due to its free-range approach allowing you to get in over your head rapidly. It’s not uncommon to find yourself surrounded by bloodthirsty enemies, the situation not being helped by the explosions and slash effects being writ large across your computer screen every time you take a hit, which happens a lot.

Goblins

“Oh, hello…Didn’t see you there…Having a little party? We’ll be going then…Bye!”

Just like Doom, MM6 has a first-person perspective, and a lot of walls and corners, often with monsters waiting behind them and creeping up behind you. It’s not uncommon to turn around and see a monster in your face. Except, sometimes there won’t be a monster there, as every scary masterpiece knows, the expected isn’t scary so you’ll find yourself constantly checking over your shoulder to see nothing until the one time you don’t check…

What about the sound, surely that would give away a monster following you? It might well do, the problem is you’ll hear a lot of monster noises and they could be far away or right beside you. The noises ultimately just make you more nervous as you experience that feeling of there being someone there but you don’t know where, like a bump in the night.

There is another way to track nearby monsters, the game gives you a small gemstone for each character that changes colour. If it’s green you’re safe. Yellow means there’s something hostile nearby and red means it’s on top of you. It’ll be red more often than not though, early 3D systems rarely included height in distance calculations meaning the monsters on the floors above and below will be detected. It’ll also pick up enemies on the other side of a door, great! Except that you once again enter into that element of, ‘I know something’s there, but I don’t know what’. It could be a feeble rat creature, or a psychopathic, inferno wielding devil.

So we’ve got dark dungeons, surprise monsters, a lot of suspense and the unknown. What about vicious, all-powerful monsters that kill you in one hit? As I mentioned earlier, the free roaming element of the game can get you in over your head. There’s one particular way you might do that when utilising a cheat, or rather Easter egg, in the game. There’s a hidden teleporter in the first town that takes you to the developer’s room, where you can collect infinite money. What’s the catch? The teleporter doesn’t drop you in the room, it takes you outside an altar which teleports you to the room. Outside the altar just happens to be an enormous desert filled with hungry dragons eager to munch on some foolhardy adventurers. They’ll breath fireballs at you and almost certainly kill you in a single hit. The trick then is to pause the game immediately on teleportation, hold down the run button, unpause, and spam the spacebar like nobodies business to ensure you activate the altar teleport before you get hit.

It can’t all be nerve wracking danger, what about the safe areas? Well firstly, the safe areas are often close enough to the monsters that your gemstone will be glowing a permanent yellow, alerting you to the fact that nowhere is safe. A chest, no matter how innocent its location, will invariably be trapped and you will be treated to a large, acidic purple splat on your screen. And the NPCs aren’t much better, should you innocently murder one of them with a stray keyboard click the entire village will turn on you, and nothing says psycho village more than discovering every single villager has been hiding a knife in their pocket.

Chances are, you’ll die, a lot. And when you do, with the portraits of your entire team being replaced by gravestones, you’ll be treated to meeting Death in person. (I regret that I couldn’t find a clip or picture of this.)

He’ll take your money, tell you it’s not your time yet and boot you back to the beginning village. The first time you see him, pretty scary. Though admittedly after that it becomes quite laughable and I spent some time deliberately dying to see if he ever said something different.

I never finished this game, it took too much of a toll on my psyche to explore the dungeons with death lurking behind every corner and in every shadow. Some games are scary, deliberately so, but I reckon the scariest game for each individual probably wasn’t meant to be scary in the first place, so comment and tell me what’s your scariest game and why?