Matthew Ployhart is an author hailing from South Carolina, United States. He primarily writes philosophical essays and satires, but also has fun with short stories and novels. When he does write poetry, Ployahrt often focuses on the internal mental struggles of the individual, and frequently paints the horror and tragedy that the mind in isolation or terror can inflict upon oneself.



I found myself before a tiny old island in the sea, and not much was left;
For, islands once grand had sunken into the depths.
And on that tiny island was a tower made of stone,
Braving waves and sea spray rotting all alone.

I climbed the old, rickety stairs that led to the very top.
And the thing I saw up there made me want to stop
Cold in my tracks, for there sat beneath the cracked glass peloton
A rotting old skeleton;
Draped in garments—though once grand—
That were slowly disintegrating into sand.

Clutched in the being’s arms, it held a tablet,
So I reached forward, and grabbed it.
I read it aloud; it said:

“To all travelers, hear me;
Revel and behold,
For you stand now before the,
And at my feet lay gold.”

“There is no greater army,
Or kingdom to maintain;
So stand before it all in awe,
And revel in my name.”

And as I finished reading, I gazed upward to see
Through the holes within the wall frame, to the high waves of the sea.
I thought of my own kingdom, that I had left all alone.
In little time, I grabbed my things, and then I headed home.

If travelers do still today abound,
Seeking out their fortune as they wander around,
If they see the things that I have seen, deep in the ocean’s Hell,
Would they be able to discern, would they be able to tell
Apart from the waves: the kingdom that no one could fell?


It was a warm night, and my ship having unfortunately
Been delayed due to the storm, I sought somewhere else to be.
“There be an inn over there,” the man on the coach said.
I had to get out of the rain of the storm and find a bed.
I wandered to the height of the hill
On the stone of the shore, where the wind drafted chill,
And I looked to the giant inn there before:
Four stories high, rotting, full of windows…I walked to the door.

The porch was large, and I hesitated but then
I knocked upon the knocker, and I found to that end
That a man—fairly dressed, in a black suit and vest—
Came to answer the call, and suspected that I sought rest.
He welcomed me inside, and I saw, to my fright,
That the building was dark and empty, that night.
Some lamps lined the walls, though they were quite dim,
But the man led me inside, so I followed him.

The walls were of wood, and covered in dust,
The mantelpiece by the low fire had begun to rust,
And the building was all around rotting and empty.
“Right this way,” the man said, as he led me.
I inquired as to how many guests were in the space.
He replied: “there is one other man in this place.”
I followed the innkeeper through the large, empty building…
The walls and floors were groaning and creaking in their sing.

I was led down a hallway, and then up some stairs,
And upon the dark walls, various paintings expressed ware.
The stairs were old and creaking, and the carpet was soiled,
And the banister railings were worn and dulled from toil.
Down one more hallway—narrow and enclosed—
And one more set of stairs, to the third floor I rose.
Then the man with the lantern gestured to there:
A man in brown suit sitting in a chair

At the end of the hallway, he nodded at me.
I sat down across from him, as if there I was meant to be.
I took of my hat, and the innkeeper left, and said:
“If you hear anything suspicious…” And trailed off, shaking his head.
The man and I acknowledged the old chess board between us:
Cracked pieces on the board arising little fuss
From the two of us—eager to distract ourselves from the night.
We began to play in the dim lantern light.

The man was a printer from New York, he stated, on his way
Up to Canada. When the storm had set in at the end of the day,
He came to this large inn. I told him of my unfortunate fate:
The hurricane arrived swiftly, and now my ship was late.
I asked the man if he had ever been in this hotel before.
He said he had stayed here, though the place once was more.
It had been a booming hotel, last he was there,
Full of furnishings and patrons and simply seemed well to fare.

Now, it sat, rotting away,
No longer the lavish place it once was one day.
I asked if he had stayed there since the inn went astray.
He replied that he had once, though it had changed in a horrifying way.
I asked how so, and he leaned in to reply
That the inn was home to some horrifying sarcophagi.
Some creature, he said, lurked in the shadow,
Something he had scarcely evaded his last go.

Something, he said, would sneak through the halls,
Hunting the guests while they’re asleep and in stall.
It was horrid and ugly and ready to kill
Any guest—defenseless, they were—upon its will.
I asked him if he were serious, and he smiled.
“No,” he chuckled. “You fell for that like a child.”
A good laugh he had, and then won the game of chess.
He said his goodnight, and left off for some rest.

I went to the room that the innkeeper had offered,
And, for it was at the end of the hallway, I found it absurd.
On the fourth floor, it was, in the large tower room,
With a rickety old bed, and air that smelled of gloom.
Well, I was no man to fall for that!
I walked back down the hallway, leaving my flat.
I sat at the table where I had played the chess game,
Deciding to spend the night there instead of risking my name.

I sat in the chair, and tried to stare down the hallway,
Illuminated by the dim orange light of dusty lanterns along the way;
Remnants of a hotel that once was grand,
Though now was no more than a musty old inn upon the land.
Just then, I heard a knock against the wood.
I sat erect, and rigid, I stood,
Facing down the hallway, prepared to face whatever
It was that was there…I had no shield or cover.

When nothing occurred, I slowly sat back down.
I worried—I knew!—that something was around.
I stared down the corridor once again,
And was ready to hear the next sound, and just then
Something clanked further down the dark hallway.
I starred past the arch at the end of the way
And made eye contact with some horrifying monster!
In shadows, it was, as I began to stare.

I shut my eyes hard for a moment, as if to block out the dawn.
I opened them next: the creature was gone.
The house was dark and still…
But a creak on the wood sent down my back a chill.
I saw it there, standing in the shadow!
I didn’t know what to do, but it looked a menacing blow.
I had no idea of its form, nor of its complexion.
I knew I was completely void of protection.

“Stay back!” I affirmed, and swore it took a step forward at last.
I took a lantern from the table and shattered the glass.
I held it out before me, ready to defend,
But then considered that this creature I could not hope to end.
I held the glass instead to my own throat, ready to end my own life
Rather than face the untold horror of this terrifying strife.
“Last chance,” I uttered in shameful defeat. It stepped forward,
And I dragged the glass against my throat—my life was in retreat.

Though if only I had been aware
The entire time of the house and its ware.
Creaks and groaning are part of the night,
And natural shadows contributed to the fright.
Regardless, now, the inn housed a suicide,
And the creature in the shadow does now there reside.
Its figure will haunt the house as long as it stands,
And be feared by all who venture from familiar lands.