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Paranormal Pen
Prompt: Congratulations! You've just become the proud owner of a mysterious hotel, only to discover that it's haunted. Dive into the eerie tale and share what unfolds during your eventful first month as the new proprietor. Describe the strange encounters, peculiar occurrences, and ghostly phenomena that take place within the hotel's walls. How do the spirits make their presence known? Are they mischievous or malevolent? Do they communicate with you, leaving cryptic messages or hints about the hotel's hidden history? Explain the challenges you face while managing a haunted hotel. How do the ghostly inhabitants affect the staff, guests, and the overall atmosphere? Are there any legends or rumors associated with the hotel that come to light during this time? Explore the origins of these spectral beings and their connection to the establishment. Delve into your attempts to unravel the hotel's haunted past. Do you seek the help of paranormal experts or local historians to gather information? Are there any valuable artifacts, hidden chambers, or forgotten journals that offer clues to the hotel's haunted nature? Reflect on your personal experiences during this month. How do you cope with the unsettling events and growing curiosity about the spirits? Are you determined to understand their stories and find a way to coexist with them, or do you aim to banish them from the hotel altogether? In the end, does this newfound spectral presence drive you to the brink of madness or ignite a relentless pursuit for truth? Share the twists and turns of your journey as you navigate the haunted hotel's mysteries, making it an unforgettable month filled with spine-chilling encounters and unexpected discoveries.
Cover image for post Hôtel Le Fontanelle, by dustygrein

Hôtel Le Fontanelle

(a ballade supreme, in *catalectic tertiary paeonic tetrameter)

Audio Recording: https://soundcloud.com/dusty-grein/hotel

The old lawyer closed his case, and said “That’s all there is, I guess.”

“Did my uncle really die there?” He looked up and gave a sigh,

“In the lobby’s where they found him. It was probably the stress,

of the many renovations he was planning when he died.”

That was how it came to pass that it was now my turn to try

and fix up the old stone building, like it was when it was new.

So I moved to New Orleans. This city's beautiful, that's true,

but quite soon I learned more truth, about the evil that befell

many guests who chose to stay there, and the tales told by the crew

of the ghosts and apparitions at

Hôtel Le Fontanelle.

When I moved into the place, I found that it was quite a mess.

It confused me and I couldn’t understand the reasons why;

till I woke up one dark midnight, to the gentlest caress

and the faintest quiet echo, sounding like a baby’s cry.

I sat up and found my blood was running cold, my mouth was dry,

while my fists were clenched quite firmly and my lips were turning blue.

Through the pounding of my heartbeat, all that I could think to do

was to calm my labored breathing, which I did… until a bell

began ringing somewhere near, and then I found that I was glued

to my bed, here in my room within

Hôtel Le Fontanelle.

After that I knew the time had come to find a priest to bless

every room and every hall, to help those earth-bound spirits fly

off to Heaven, or to Hell, I really couldn’t care much less.

It was my place now, and I was not afraid to dig and pry

into all the secret stories there, exposing every lie.

I discovered there’d been voodoo rituals, which blasted through

the thin veil between the realms. Into this hole, the spirits flew.

The old ju-ju woman in the swamp refused to cast a spell

which would mend the rip. Instead she laughed and said that I would rue

the day I stepped o’er the threshold of

Hôtel Le Fontanelle.

The true horror of the situation only bloomed and grew

after my attempt to free them, for I really had no clue,

that this failed attempt soon meant my body too, would start to smell,

from the bed where it lay rotting. See, the cost of sin comes due,

and it must be paid with interest, to

Hôtel Le Fontanelle.


© 2023 - dustygrein

* This little used poetic meter means each line is is built of four 4-syllable feet, with the stress on syllable #3. It is catalectic (latin: no tail) because the final syllable is omitted from each line, giving it a syllable stress rhythm of:

tap, tap, THUMP, tap, tap, tap, THUMP, tap, tap, tap, THUMP, tap, tap, tap, THUMP.

Profile avatar image for A
• 137 reads

fuck five syllables, for

a motherfucking haiku, because

I'm drunk

Profile avatar image for Prose
• 165 reads

Sore and Confused in a Barn, a Compact Enigma, and our Apples of Discord.

Hello, Writers and Dear Readers.

We are proud to announce our new method for picking our poison, so check the YouTube video beneath the link for our Challenge of the Week CCXXVI right after this message. In today's video, we congratulate last week's winner, who wrote a hell of a piece to take her fella out to lunch, should she decide to do so.

-Hope your long weekend means a short hangover.




As Always...

Thank you for being here.

-The Prose. team

Profile avatar image for area_man
• 45 reads

Barrels of Champagne

She never operated

Under parasols

And tacky lingerie

She refused

To be showered

With perfume

And promises

She needed

Your blood

To be clean

And willing

To receive

She showed you

How to break

And you did

David Burdett


Challenge of the Month XXXIX
Write a short poem about your own private Hell. The tortured who reigns gets 100 big ones. Winner will be picked by Prose. Go.
Profile avatar image for romulus
• 50 reads


Mother spider,

she wanes to wrap her children -

it's a sordid affair,

and eight faucets fault at once,

and it must be done.

No burial is more loving

than one tucked away

into dustbins of discards.

No grave is lonelier

than one left unmade:

a lazy morning's heartbreak

that won't roll out of bed.

She sows pristine dresses

for her paper-doll children.

Tomorrow they will finally

fray, and she'll be left with

split milk's acrid taste.

Outside it's February, and

the closet's own brittle bones

have weathered.

Challenge of the Week LXXXIV
You've found a canonical magic lamp. When the genie emerges from it, he tells you he can only grant you one wish, but there's a catch. He can only solve problems. What problem will you ask the genie to solve?
Profile avatar image for EugeneSpew
• 80 reads

Full of peril and of death, at least

He loosened the straps that held his peg to what was left of his right leg and examined the stars to get his bearings. Many had died tonight, he was determined not to be another. His ship and his crew had sailed south for at least two months before the wind died. That was yesterday, now he was alone. Alone without a crew to hinder his progress, and as the wind finally caught the sail of his long boat, hopefully steering it towards the shore, he looked back, towards the horizon, at his burning ship. The ship he had set aflame before stealing away with the only long boat. At least, his crew wasn’t freezing anymore.

Happy to have the quiet, and knowing it wouldn’t last, he tried to enjoy it. Then, on que, and before he finished the thought…

“That was as rude as it was calculated.” She said. The voice came from the almost apathetic woman who appeared suddenly at the front of the boat. She was gazing back at the fire. The flames illuminated her pale skin.

“Perhaps, they’re better off. What if there’s only one? You’re free of them, at least.” She sighed.

“...but not free of you, and how lucky we both are, for this harlot’s curse.” He said, trying to evade her, scanning the boat, looking for anything to occupy his mind. She went away when he was busy, if the itching stopped, but a chill ran through the wind, and he was resigned only to tighten the fur lining of his coat. She’ll have to haunt my dreams too, he thought.

…It was the thud of the boat hitting land that woke him. The moon, as the sun never came here, was bright, almost happy to see him, but it was freezing. On first appearance, he hadn’t found land at all. He knew enough to realize he had no clue. He was either the first man here or the only man still living. People, of course, had warned him when he asked about the lamp from the south. They warned he would never find the cave. Most told of monsters that roamed the ice islands, others said he would fall off the side of the earth, but everyone recited a cautionary tale, full of peril and of death. He believed no one. He was calculated, with no liking for the prison of superstition, but always, of an open mind. It’s true. For his time and profession, the Captain was a learned man, but mostly just a greedy one. After all, what else would compel a man to sail to the map’s edge and then further? He would tell you, he likened himself as more than just a harbinger of pillage and destruction; he was a lion, his greed the lioness, their conquests were merely sustenance. Though, when he drinks, he’s also quite dramatic.

“You’re so jaded.” She said. He wasn’t fully awake yet, but she was easy to ignore in the mornings.

“You’re not even satisfied we found land.” She added and jumped out onto the ice.

“I’ll be satisfied when we find the lamp.” He said, squinting, trying to find a landmark. His eyes came into focus and he examined the ice terrain before him. It looked sturdy enough to support his weight, and so, he lifted his peg over the side of the boat and placed it firmly on the ice. The ice cracked slightly, and he noticed a puddle gathering, it submerged a portion of his peg, but the floor was holding. With hazard, he attempted the step to land and was successful. He took a few slow steps, and noticed his peg was sticking to the ground, slightly freezing with every step. It was helping to keep his footing. Confidently, the captain pushed forward, walking south. He smiled, happy to be “alone” at least.

“I wouldn’t get too excited. It’s obviously far.” She warned.

“Your peg, it’s frozen all ready.” She added.

“Oh, grow a spine, grow anything.” He said, mumbling, because he knew all ready. It was apparent with each step; the peg was freezing harder to the ice. Each time, it was harder to pull up, to keep his balance and then to take that next step. His last was quickly approaching, the peg would freeze solid to the ground soon.

“Grow a leg.” She said. He could only laugh, and they walked awhile together, towards what we can only assume will be his death. Fittingly, after some time, a blizzard began, and the wind blew the snow around. He could hardly see the faint outline, the shadow of an entrance. It had to be the cave, he thought, and he stopped to focus through the snow. It just had to be.

He was standing in front of the entrance, composing himself, and somewhat relieved, when he realized the peg was frozen stiff. He had stood still for too long. And so, with little thought, the Captain loosened the straps that held his peg to what was left of his right leg. He wouldn’t need it, that is, if he found the lamp.

“It will make a fitting tombstone, I think.” She said, as he removed the straps and made to balance one legged on the ice, but the blizzard swept and instantly blew him off his footing. He fell, flat foot and face down. Stubbornly, he tightened the fur lining of his coat and proceeded towards the entrance, resigned to “walk” using his left knee. He was fortunate there were few steps left in his journey.

The cave was dark, hollow, and hardly warmer. He was exhausted, at least the cave floor collapsed before he did. He only heard the rush, then landed safely on his end, he opened his eyes, finally to realize, he was staring at the lamp. It was resting atop the rubble, waiting. He jerked towards it, crawling like a madman. With the last of his strength he reached to grab it and pulled it close to his breast. He was caressing its polished edges, when suddenly, the cave shook, and a rattling ran throughout. He dropped the lamp and crawled backwards towards the wall as he watched it rising, suspended in the air. The sound grew unbearable, he was covering his ears in pain, when suddenly, the sound stopped, and a genie appeared.

“Damn, it’s cold.” The genie said, annoyed. Yet, the genie immediately regretted his curtness and tried to cover.

“I’m sorry. Hello, I see you found me, but please be brief. What’s your name and only one of you?” He said, almost apologetically.

“Yes, I’m the Captain, and I’m alone.”

“Never say that.” She said, pretending to pout and sitting at his foot.

“Indeed, yes, alone. Interesting, one never knows, but wait, oh, I do see another.” The genie said.

“You see her too?” He asked, almost relieved.

“If you wish.” The genie laughed and continued.

“I see her, through you…I wonder if that makes you a man at all?” The genie was forgetting his feigned kindness.

“I like him, a lot.” She said.

“I don’t wonder anymore.” The Captain said, defending his wit before his manhood.

“Yes, you just wander. What a difference a vowel makes in a verb. Please, hurry.” The genie said.

“Do I have a wish?” He asked.

“Somewhat, what’s your problem?” The genie insisted.

“I just want a leg.”

“How simple, yes. I can do that, of course…well…not to get too specific. A couple millennia back, I made a vow to myself, after an unfortunate turn of events, I mean after certain life lessons, I decided to stop being a wish giver, and instead; a problem solver. So please, if you could, state your problem.” The genie insisted again.

“I take it back. I don’t like him anymore.” She said, turning despondently to examine a rock.

“What should I say is my problem?” He asked the genie, annoyed now too. The genie deliberated hurriedly and tried to answer.

“Something like, ‘Oh genie, please help me, I cannot walk.’ And I can, as I’ve said, solve the problem.” The genie replied.

“Wouldn’t you just give me gills and fins then? So, I could swim. You’re a trickster, it’s why you’re here. I’ve read the stories.” He argued, determined not to be swindled by the patronizing “problem solver” who lived for all eternity in a lamp at the bottom of an arctic cave. Understandably, the genie was offended and quickly started ranting.

“Why does everyone think that? As if we’re that literal, like we’re just shouting across lamps about another human we fooled. It’s the stereotypes that plague…”

“Oh genie, I cannot walk” The Captain interrupted, worried he’d freeze before ever making his wish.

“Thank you, I’m happy to solve your problem.” The genie said, before disappearing with a crack. The cave groaned as before, and he heard the genie’s voice echo from above.

“Of life and limb.

A peg forgiven.

And though the weight...

Let our Captain, walk to heaven”

She was the last thing he saw before losing consciousness. She was waving goodbye. In what felt like an instant, he came to, staring at his new right leg and sitting on the ice in the moonlight. He moved his right toes, then, hesitantly, he looked around. The boat was steps way, and she was nowhere to be seen. He smiled.

“That was surprisingly cryptic.” He said, to no one now, happy to be alone and anxious to walk. With little effort, he stood up, as if he’d never missed a step, and for the first time in our story, the Captain walked with both legs. Unfortunately, and, perhaps it’s because he felt lighter, but he failed to consider the additional weight of his new leg on the ice. If doing so, he would’ve taken more caution when stepping towards the boat. He was stepping towards the ice that had cracked earlier, towards shaky ground. And, as he took his last step, lifting his left leg up into the boat, at least, he never heard the crack. He only heard the rush and then the quiet. I imagine, he’s still smiling.

Profile avatar image for Mamba
• 75 reads

And the winner is…

Imaginary Journey

Writing Challenge: Imagine yourself as the protagonist of an extraordinary journey. You are transported to a fictional world where anything is possible. Your task is to write a short story or narrative poem describing your adventure. Explore the sights, sounds, and emotions of this unknown realm. Let your creativity go to it’s limits as you encounter fantastical creatures, navigate uncharted territories, and face unexpected challenges. Share the triumphs, the trials, and the lessons learned along the way. Immerse the reader in the magic of your journey and ignite their imagination. The word limit for this challenge is 500 words. Let’s GO! Winner Gets $20.00 Via PayPal Or CashApp

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today, we gather here to celebrate the remarkable achievement of our writing contest's challenge winner. It is with great pleasure and admiration that I stand before you to congratulate

BJLeCrae, the brilliant mind behind the prose Fizzy and Mixx that earned them this well-deserved 20 bucks.

In conclusion, let us raise our glasses to Fizzy and Mixx, the charming characters of this writing contest. Your words have breathed life into characters, worlds, and emotions that will forever remain etched in the space time continuum of Prose.

Congratulations, your success is truly well-deserved, and I eagerly anticipate the literary wonders that you unveil in the future.



Fizzy and Mixx

by BJLeCrae

"Dad's home. What are we going to tell him?"

"We're not going to tell him anything, Fizz."

"He's going to notice the fucking dog is missing, Mixx. He's not an idiot."

"Yes, he is. Mom only married him for his hair and biceps..."

"And gluts."

"Yeah, don't remind me. We'll tell him we haven't seen Bailey and just play dumb."

"That's easy for you; you've only got a 167 IQ. I'm going to have to put on the performance of a lifetime."

"Four points, Fizz. Four tiny fucking IQ points, and I was hopped up on Paracetamol..."

"Hey girls, what's up?"

"Hi Daddy!"

"Hey Fizz! You guys still working on the project?"

"Yeah, Mixxy's just working out some bugs."

"Bugs? It's almost noon. I would have thought you two would be celebrating unlocking the mysteries of the space-time continuum by now."

"It's the... time-space continuum, Father."

"Yeah... that's what they call it in this universe. So, what is this thing, Mixx?"

"Right now, I don't know what it is."

"Well, what does it do?"


"That's not true. It does something, we're just not sure what."

"Well, what's is supposed to do?"

"It supposed to facilitate the diffusion of molecules across a selectively permeable membrane between areas of higher to lower concentration, Father."

"Ohhh... so it's a ray gun!"

"Yes, it's a ray gun."

"Nice. Where's Bailey?"

"I don't know. I haven't seen him. Have you seen him, Fizz?"

"Well, I certainly don't see him now."

"Maybe he's in the back yard."

"Maybe... it's weird, he always greets me at the door. I figured he must be up here with you guys helping with your work on your ray gun thing..."

"Don't touch that!"

"Daddy no!"

"What's happening?!"

"Mixx! Fizz! Hold onto me!"


"I've got you!"

"Look... "

"What? What the hell? What's wrong with my voice? Are you hearing this?"

"You sound like a chipmunk... hahahaha! I sound like a chipmunk!"

"Why don't I sound... ooookay, I sound like a chipmunk, too. What the heck is going on, Mixxy? What kind of molecular diffusion... selectably permable..."

"Selectively permeable... it doesn't matter! That's not what it was. You wouldn't understand it anyway."

"Sure I would. Molecular diffusion... and selectively permeable... membranes and the... the other..."

"That's osmosis! I just gave you the definition of osmosis so you'd leave us alone to work on accelerator!"

"Accelerator?! What does it accelerate? Where the hell are we, Mixx?"

"I don't know! Ask Fizz! She's the smart one!"

"Only by four points! I don't know where we are! Everything's all fuzzy and blurry and..."

"Okay, let's all just calm down."

"Fizz! Fizz! Sit! Fizz! Mixx!"

"Who the heck is that?"

"It came from over there. Look, some... thing's coming."

"Sit! Fizz! Mixx!"

"Holy mother of crap! It's Bailey!"

"Bailey! You're talking!"

"Bailey talking. Good boy."

"Holy crap, Mixx. You've transported us into a parallel universe where dogs can talk!"

"What do we do now, Mixx?"

"I don't friggin' know! There's a 500-word limit!"

Challenge of the Month XXXIX
Write a short poem about your own private Hell. The tortured who reigns gets 100 big ones. Winner will be picked by Prose. Go.
• 20 reads

You as Me

Are we not so alike, you and I?

A conversation, it takes you,

never mind the particulars,

man, mutt, wall.


you can point to it,

something comes to mind?

Never mind, but before that.

Where is it?

My private hell,

you know it well,

Shameful pain, forever, hopelessly unredeemed.

Challenge of the Month XXXIX
Write a short poem about your own private Hell. The tortured who reigns gets 100 big ones. Winner will be picked by Prose. Go.
Profile avatar image for BJLeCrae
• 74 reads

Little White Rings

I don't usually tell folks about my own private Hell, and I had no intention of doing so here, despite the invitation, but a second invitation from LilEnigma has also arisen--something about vulnerability... about trust. What kind of horrible things have we donein our lives--which kind of lends itself to a type of private Hell. So why not? I'd often heard about "the gates of Hell," but I always figured the term to be sort of... fantastical. As it turns out, there actually is a gate to Hell just outside of Poughkeepsie.

Poughkeepsie-- all my life, I'd never known, or considered, for that matter, how to spell it. Strange though, the moment you see it, you know how to pronounce it, regardless of its many letters, and regardless of how one might think it would be spelled. I got stuck staring at it-- Poughkeepsie. I stared at it so long that there developed little faint white rings on some of the keys of my otherwise black keyboard--a tell-tale sign of someone who has found one of the gates.

There's divided highway east of town called Haight Avenue, which turns into Manchester Road coming through Arlington-- three lanes of traffic headed either direction. Officially, it's simply, Highway 55. About three miles east, you can take an exit onto a plain, two-lane road, Old Manchester Road, which immediately turns into Titusville Road beginning at the bridge over Wappinger Creek, then leads south into, you guessed it... Titusville.

The gate of Hell, to which I refer, is located almost exactly halfway across the 181-foot bridge over Wappinger Creek. In June of 2016, I stood on the edge of that bridge and decided to jump.

I did not. Instead, my phone rang, and it was someone saying they wanted to publish my book. The gates of Hell would have to wait.

Telling you about the gate is the easy part. I've done that so many times that it's begun to become numb. No, the intriguing part of this exercise is the vulnerability... the trust. So, let's try this.

In 2012, Kendall was 17, Ashley was 9, and their mother would harm me physically if I revealed her age at the time. Danielle. Danni. I had recently published (self-published) The Second Rape of Doctor Emily Pershing. Life was good-- damn good. Our family had been on a quest, seeking out information regarding Danni's birth mother, as she had been adopted as an infant and had decided to find out as much as possible about her past. We found out a lot. A lot.

The love was thick, heavy, wonderful. The proverbial cup had runneth over. We decided to share the story-- share the love, so to speak. Danni, Kendall, and I shared as much as we could remember, and the majority of it was handed down from Danni's mother, and a beautiful friend whom we desperately wished we could meet. The crux of this thing-- the book-- was that sacrifices were made in order to give Danni life, and in turn, give life to her daughters, creating every beautiful thing which filled the cup.

As much as I wanted to believe the story was well-prepared and researched and presented, I have come to accept that there is something missing. The reviews have been as exceptional as they have been rare. To my knowledge, fewer than ten people have ever read the thing. Call it what you will, the simple fact is... it's a failure.

On March 4, 2016, Danni's impossibly adorable brother, Percy, had treated the girls to a road trip to visit my parents, who had moved to New York for reasons that I still cannot fathom. One of our family quirks was that, whenever we saw something while traveling which made any of us wonder, "What is that?" or "Where does that road go?" we'd head off to solve the puzzle. I imagine, someone must have thought, "Why do they call it 'Manchester Road?'" Then they convinced Uncle Percy to exit on Old Manchester Road, to confirm whether or not Manchester truly existed.

A moving truck lost a wheel-- an entire wheel-- while crossing westbound on the bridge over Wappinger Creek, causing the driver to lose control and cross over into the eastbound lane. Percy, Danni, 21-year-old Kendall, and 13-year-old Ashley were hit, head-on, bouncing their minivan up and over the guard rail and into the creek, killing everyone inside.

My heart damn near chokes me when I think about how I used to joke that life was going to suck when Ashley turned thirteen. I thought she'd be such a tremendous pain-in-the-butt, so head-strong and argumentative. I thought she'd be impossible.

She wasn't. She wasn't. Dear God in Heaven, she was absolutely perfect!

I've found salt formations to be remarkably resilient. How they last under constant abuse is beyond me. The only thing which seems to break them down, other than some type of cleaning agent which I haven't the heart to employ, is the very thing which created them. And here I am, having once again, added more droplets, which will eventually dry, the salt crystalizing, reinforcing the little white rings.

The publisher who called about the book was complete BS-- wanted me to spend hundreds of dollars to have them redesign the cover, proofread it, and put absolutely zero effort into advertising it anywhere other than where it's already easily found... and that's the hard part: the vulnerability. Sacrifices were made, lives were uprooted, hell, lives were lost in order to ensure just the possibility of Danni's existence. Her life was made possible, Danni's children's lives were made possible, and I was, by far, the greatest beneficiary of those lives... and now they're gone. All there is, to demonstrate the awesome selflessness of the people and the extraordinary beauty of the sacrifices made, is this story--my contribution, my effort-- and as I stood on the edge of that bridge and stared into mouth of the gates of Hell, it was my greatest, most profound and contemptible regret, in this cruel life, to have known that in that effort, I had failed them. All of them. It's as if none of them were ever here.

And neither am I.

Profile avatar image for area_man
• 23 reads

Misogyny & Wizards

When metal ruled the earth

Arenas belched clouds

Of brick pack dirt weed

And Heineken

Made it better

As women

With perfect asses

And huge hair

Licked their lips

And danced

In cages

For cocaine

And lead singers

Power ballads

Gave way

To mystical women

Who inhabited

Sacred castles

On their knees

Begging for hot

Love by force

And more cocaine

And supermarket


For the hot tub

Sing along orgy

As me and you

Smoked a toothpick

Looking joint

And agreed that

Dio and Iron Maiden

Were really good

And that Judas Priest

And Twister Sister

Were fucking stupid.

David Burdett