The story below is a winner from our Fiction Fantastic Young Writers Contest, open to all youth in Lane County. For more information on this contest, including how to enter, visit here. Support this program with a donation.
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“The Campsite Hotel” by Leo Kuhl, Charlemagne at Fox Hollow Elementary School
K-2 Spotlight, Elementary Level, 2021
The Campsite Hotel
By Leo Kuhl
Charlemagne at Fox Hollow Elementary School
Chapter 1: The Lobby
One day Ralph asked his mom, “Can I go down to the lobby?”
“Fine,” his mom said.
Ralph went to the lobby and watched a TV show. Suddenly, Ralph saw something move in the bushes down below in the garden.
Ralph opened the door and walked onto the porch. He saw whatever it was move in the bushes again. Ralph leaned against the wall at the edge of the porch but still couldn’t picture what it was.
Still, Ralph didn’t give up. Ralph then saw it happen for the third time! Now it was getting suspicious. So Ralph kept looking at the same spot!
But Ralph couldn’t find it anymore. He turned around going back into the lobby when suddenly he saw it happen again!
Ralph wanted to know what it was. He couldn’t stand it. So Ralph walked to the door but then he saw it happen for the fifth time!
Ralph stared at the spot where he had just seen it happen. Now anger was rising inside him.
Eventually, he saw it happen for the fifteenth time. Then he stalked off and opened the door to the lobby. He sat down watching the TV show. Then he turned around to look at the clock, and it happened again.
Realizing what just happened, Ralph turned around in response. Ralph watched for two more hours and then looked at the clock. Now it was 6:00. Ralph turned the TV off and left the lobby. When he was out, he saw the bushes move again. This time he stared at the spot where he saw it happen for a minute. Then he went up the stairs to Apartment 316 for dinner. He swung the door open and stepped inside. He closed the door and sat down for dinner.
During dinner his mom and dad were talking. Meanwhile, Ralph thought about what had happened. Then after dinner Ralph sat in bed still wondering what it was. Finally he got up, opened the door to see his mom standing there.
“How was the lobby?” his mom asked.
“Good,” he said, not wanting to mention whatever it was he saw move in the bushes.
“Well, that’s good,” she said moving closer to Ralph.
“I’m going to read,” Ralph said.
“OK,” she said, walking off.
Later that night Ralph was going to bed.
“Good night,” said his mom and dad as they left the room.
They shut the door leaving Ralph there lying awake on his bed.
Ralph had a dream where he was running along a long path in the forest. He saw twelve squirrels and a bunch of trees. But then he noticed he was running off a cliff. Then he was falling off the cliff. Then suddenly he lay awake on his bed. It was 5:00 a.m. Ralph lay there wanting to figure out what it was. Then Ralph had an idea. He didn’t have to think of what it might be. Ralph could walk up and see what it was.
Chapter 2: The Shadow
Ralph sneaked out of his bedroom. Next he slipped on his socks and shoes. Then he quietly opened and closed the door. He walked down the hall when he heard footsteps. He ran behind a wall and he heard the person say, “Come out, come out, wherever you are.”
Since he was close to the stairs, he ran down them and couldn’t hear the person anymore. He walked out the door and ran out into the night. But then suddenly he heard footsteps. Ralph ran, and something followed. Ralph was running on the same path as in his dream! Then Ralph saw the cliff! It couldn’t be the same as in his dream. Dreams are just dreams. But it was. Then Ralph saw something else. It was the person who chased him off the cliff in his dream. But it wasn’t the same person. But Ralph knew where the path went.
It went to the edge of the cliff. Ralph had no choice but to run off the path. Ralph ran off the path, but they followed. Then Ralph had an idea. Ralph climbed up a tree, but they followed. Ralph climbed onto a branch, but they followed. Suddenly the branch came crashing down. When Ralph got up, he had no time to look around. He ran to the place where he saw whatever it was move in the bushes. He ran as fast as he could. He wanted to lose whatever it was that was chasing him. He saw that they kept following him. Then he had an idea. He had trailed the thing off the path. He could run back onto the path. So he ran onto the path, and as he expected the thing followed. He ran back on the path to where the thing moved in the bushes. Along the path Ralph saw something fly up above. Suddenly, there was a shadow and a flash of light!
Ralph had fainted. The thing had jumped on him! Ralph lay there as the thing walked away growling. Ralph was left alone. When he woke up it was 6:45 a.m. He walked along the path and then he noticed something. There were footprints. The thing must have been an animal. He followed the footprints. The shadow that Ralph saw was an animal, but it all happened so fast. Ralph did not know what it was. Suddenly, a thought occurred to him. The shadow, the animal that made the footprints, the thing that was chasing him, and the thing that kept moving in the bushes could all be the same thing! That would mean if Ralph figured out what the shadow was that would be the thing that moved in the bushes.
Ralph decided to move to a bench he saw. He sat down and looked off the edge of the cliff at the ocean, its blue and green color shining in the sun that was rising. He heard the wind blowing against the trees, their leaves swaying in the wind. It was darker in the forest because the trees were blocking the sun. He was thinking about how if he figured out what the shadow was, he would know everything he wanted to know at the moment. He knew that his parents would not get up until 8:30 a.m.
Then he saw lava coming out of a volcano. He was standing at the foot of the volcano. There were two other men standing there, both of them with swords. One of them was asking a question.
“Now or later?” he was saying.
“Later,” the other man barked.
“Yes,” said the first man.
“It will come soon,” the second one said.
Ralph stood there listening.
“I shall go and get him,” and the first man was off.
The second and now only man turned around to face Ralph. He held his sword and ran toward Ralph and said, “I will kill you!”
With a shriek of pain as the sword nearly cut Ralph’s neck but instead slashed against his arm, Ralph ran away and heard footsteps behind him. The man chased him into a cave. Ralph could see that the cave would go up.
“Yes, go in here,” the man said.
Ralph ran into the cave. It was pitch black. The light outside could not get in here. Ralph could see nothing but a wide river of lava, its bright red color shining in the dark.
Suddenly, Ralph heard a bang. The lava flew in the air, and a spot of the cave wall blew up. The volcano must have erupted because it was getting hot in the cave.
Ralph ran through the hole in the wall. Then the floor started to crack. Ralph turned around. Lava was right behind him.
He ran until suddenly he saw a hole in front of him. He fell into the hole, but instead of falling into lava like he expected, he fell onto solid ground. He was lost in the cave all by himself.
He could not climb out, so he had to find a way out. He walked around hoping to find a way out of the cave. Lava was leaking out through the hole. Then Ralph remembered he had very thick shoes. He ran through the lava.
Ralph got to the other side successfully; the other way was a dead end. Now the lava was going this way! Ralph turned and ran. Finally he could not see any lava. Ralph stood there. Suddenly, a boulder came crashing out of nowhere. How dangerous could this cave be! He ran so fast! Then his legs started slowing down. Ralph fell to the cave floor face down. The boulder crashed over him. Ralph got up, his body aching. It was covered in blood. Ralph thought of the two men. What was the thing that the first man was talking about? Ralph was sure he was in a trap. He thought some more. Then he realized that the two men had a plan to kill him.
But why would they want to kill him?
Then he remembered the hole in the wall. Ralph had fainted from the boulder. Though it was very brief he knew it. Ralph sat down. He had no idea where he was and how he was going to get out of the cave. Then Ralph heard another bang. Something had landed on top of the cave, but Ralph knew what it was. It was the thing that the first man was talking about.
The first man must have returned.
Ralph heard him say, “I’m back.”
The second one sighed and said, “Let’s let it blow up the cave.”
Ralph stood there his heart pounding.
“Yes,” the first one said.
There were big bangs, and the cave blew up. Ralph saw fire, its orange and red color shining there.
Ralph was blinded by the light. The thing that the first man was talking about was a dragon.
Lava was now spilling everywhere. Ralph ran. The dragon was close behind flapping its wings and blowing fire. Ralph ran faster.
Then he fell over and started rolling into the lava. The dragon scooped him up and started to eat him.
Chapter 3: The Clues
Ralph woke up startled. He was back on the bench, not in the cave. Ralph got up. A man was walking toward him.
“Sit down,” the man said.
Ralph sat back down. The man had a big white beard. Ralph asked what his name was.
“Swant,” the man replied.
“Nice to meet you, Swant.”
“You, too,” Swant replied in his deep voice. “Your parents have told me all about you. Ralph, am I right?”
“Yes,” Ralph said shyly.
“Now about that tiger you were seeing . . .”
It was a tiger; that’s what that thing was!! Ralph thought, excitement rising inside him.
Yep, it was definitely a tiger. Ralph was so relieved to finally know what it was!
“It’s not just a normal tiger because it can talk.”
Ralph was amazed by this fact.
“Here, let’s go down the path down the cliff to the beach.”
But when they got down to the beach, Swant led him to a place called the Campsite Hotel.
Inside the huge palace was a chipmunk named Chip talking to another chipmunk named Dale.
They were twins, both chubby and cute.
They led Ralph and Swant to the volcano Ralph had been to in his dream. Ralph was amazed by everything that had happened today.
“Welcome,” said Chip. But Ralph was too amazed to speak.
“But be warned, the evil chipmunk may come at any time.”
“Who’s—” began Ralph.
But Chip interrupted. “All right,” he said. “Let’s go straight to it. First let me show you your room.”
It had three big beds, and it was as big as a palace itself.
“It’s beauti—” began Ralph. He stopped. “What’s that?” he asked, pointing to a sword in a glass case.
“That is one of the three clues,” responded Dale.
“What are the other two clues?” asked Ralph.
“The gem and Armondo,” said Dale.
“Who’s that?” asked Ralph.
“Someone you saw at the cave,” said Dale.
“You mean my cave dream?”
“Sort of,” said Chip.
“What do you mean by that?” asked Ralph, forgetting about the evil chipmunk.
“Oh, well, no time,” interrupted Chip. “We must get to our battle. Froggy, Alaska, take care of Ralph.”
Alaska was a husky, and Froggy was a frog.
“Can we tell him some stuff?” Alaska asked.
“Yes, just do not tell him about the H73t,” responded Chip.
“All right, it is time to fight that monster,” said Dale, as he and Chip left.
“Let’s go spy on them,” said Alaska.
Alaska beckoned for Ralph to come with him.
Ralph came to see the battle . . .
Beep, beep, beep. Ralph’s parents woke up. His mom checked in his room. Ralph was not there. She checked everywhere but Ralph was nowhere to be seen!
“RALPH,” his mother called.
When she heard no answer, she ran down to the first floor and asked the owner of the apartment if he saw Ralph. He said no, but he had heard someone run outside. Ralph’s mom ran outside.
“Hi-ya.” SLASH. “Take that you monster.”
Ralph was speechless. The battle was so crazy. Ralph fainted.
“Wow!” Alaska said, glancing at Ralph and then slapped him hard.
“Ouch,” Ralph said, holding his head where Alaska hit him.
“All right,” Froggy said. “Let’s go back before we get caught by Chip and Dale.”
And they left.
Back at the hotel they met Chip and Dale.
“Where were you?” Chip asked.
“Um . . . uh . . . exploring,” Ralph said hesitantly. “All right, okay, we were spying on your battle.”
Alaska gave him a dirty look saying you weren’t supposed to tell him that. Ralph ignored this and tried to laugh it off.
“Listen, you have to be careful here, too.”
“Okay, okay, but do you think my parents are going to be okay?”
“It depends on how you put the current situation,” Alaska said matter-of-factly.
“They could be safe from monsters but worried about you, which they probably are,” he added.
After a long morning and afternoon, it was finally dinner.
For dinner, there were French fries, chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers, tacos, even different salads! For dessert there was cake, pie, eclairs, cupcakes, and cookies. It was an absolute feast.
Every animal was having so much fun talking. Ralph was a little shy being the only human there besides Swant and asked him if it was always like this.
“Yes, it’s just a time for them to get together.”
“Ahem, we would like to present Ralph,” Chip said and gestured to Ralph.
Alaska nudged him and mouthed, “You’re supposed to introduce yourself.”
“Hello,” Ralph began, “my name is Ralph. I am fifteen. Swant showed me here, and here I am with you. It is nice to be with you all.”
Everyone clapped and cheered. One asked if Ralph was going to be a member. Not knowing what to say, Chip said for him, “Maybe.”
“What is a member?” Ralph asked.
“It’s someone who helps with stuff for the Campsite Hotel.”
“Oh,” Ralph said and started to eat the delicious food. Mmm mmm.
“Dis foo is delicious. I can’t believe you eat this every day.”
“Well, not every day do we eat this,” Chip said and licked his fingers.
That evening Ralph asked Chip to show him to his bedroom because he had forgotten where it was. Chip and Dale led him to his bedroom.
“Long day?” Chip asked.
“Yeah, it was so much to take in all at once,” Ralph said with a long sigh.
“I know how you feel,” Chip said.
“What’s that?” Ralph asked and pointed to a sign that read:
Welcome to the Campsite Hotel. We hope you enjoy your stay.
Please STAY SAFE and have fun!
But that was not what Ralph was looking at. He was looking at the thing next to it that read:
Every soul with knowledge of the H73t is warned DEATH AWAITS FOR YOU AND THE BEAST WILL AWAKE!!!
H73t sounded familiar, but Ralph could not figure out from where. Ralph ignored this and said good night to Chip and Dale, but after they shut the door, he realized the sign was glowing.
Chapter 4: Excitement and Disappointment
Ralph’s mom was outside. It was very cold. It was 11:00 a.m. and she found half of Ralph’s footprint going off the edge of the cliff.
She had been following the footprints and ended here. She walked down the path but just saw the beach. The footprints stopped at one point on the beach, and she got worried. What if Ralph had been taken into the sea?
No, the footprints stopped. They did not lead into the ocean. It was strange. Why did they just stop? She walked along the beach for another hour, and she found a jungle, and then she spotted animal footprints. What if a giant animal ate Ralph! Her thoughts were interrupted by a mysterious voice.
“Hello,” said the voice.
“Who are you?” Ralph’s mother asked.
“It’s not who but what am I.”
Ralph’s mother was very confused by this. What did they mean?
“You are in the jungle of the lost.”
“The jungle of the lost?” she asked.
“Yes, now follow me.”
“Okay, did you happen to have seen a boy walking around here?” she asked.
Boom. GRRRRRR. The ground started trembling. GRRRRRRRR.
“What’s that noise?!”
“AHHH,” twenty bears pounced at her. The strange thing was they were light green. She ran away so fast she fell flat on her face. The next thing she knew she was in the bears’ cave. There was a sign that read:
Hello, fellow bears
How are you today
A past a future
Still awaits for
Us to seize and
Claim the jungle
Of the lost. Here
We set our camp
On our hunt to claim
The jungle of the
Lost. Everyone should
Remember that we
Will succeed in this
Quest. After 31 days
We celebrate our quest’s
And here we are
Standing after one
Month of a search proud
To be here and claim
The jungle of the lost
As ours. We will never
Give up if we fall down
We will come back
Up and will keep
On trying. We are the
What did it mean by a past, a future still awaits for us? Her question was shortly answered when a bear said:
“I know what you’re thinking. Once we claim the jungle of the lost, everyone will forget about our past and remember us as what we will be.”
Suddenly Ralph’s mom broke into a run. She ran out of the jungle and back to the beach. And there she saw chipmunk . . .
Ralph thought about the sign all night long. In the morning the sign was still glowing, and right at that moment a chipmunk walked in with Ralph’s mom following. Suddenly, Chip burst in and gasped.
“The evil chipmunk with the H73t,” said Chip.
The chipmunk was holding a gem, which must have been the H73t. Chip grabbed a sword and hit the evil chipmunk with it. The evil chipmunk vanished from sight, and everyone was happy. Ralph then realized the H73t was the second clue, the gem.