Walter’s Vacation, by Katherine Hatch
2014 Magic Town Literary Contest First Place, Ages 13-17
Age 13, The Colorado Springs School, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Walter had traveled almost every place in the world. He wanted to quench his curious mind’s desire in seeking the best place on Earth. He had gone to every continent and almost every city he could think of on purpose. Well, except one; he came upon Magic Town by accident, but somehow, he knew it was meant to be.
One day when Walter was at the train station waiting to be brought from Colorado Springs to Denver, he saw a little shop called Magic Town. It was twenty minutes from closing, but he decided that since his train didn’t depart for a while, he would take a quick peek. After paying the admission fee, he walked into the glorious rooms full of little sculptures and buildings. He knew he shouldn’t touch them, but he longed to see what they were made of. He checked to make sure that nobody was looking, then he stretched out an old finger to touch the nearest figure sitting on a bench. As he ran his finger along the smooth surface, he thought to himself that if this city were real, that would be the best place on Earth.
Suddenly, he felt himself being swept up, spinning and flipping; then he found himself sitting on the ground next to the bench with the figure he had just touched. Only now he was the size of the figures, and the statues were no longer statues. They were real people. They were moving. He walked and found himself in front of a place called Tony’s Pizzeria. He decided to walk inside. People were sitting in the booths and talking. No one bothered to look up when Walter walked in. The man behind the counter was wiping the counter with a wet rag.
Walter decided to explore more, so he walked outside and down the block to The Darby Hotel. He walked inside to find a boar’s head on the wall, a man reading a newspaper in an old armchair, and another man at the front desk.
Something outside Magic Town – the light – turned off so that the only illumination was from the lights inside the buildings. He checked his watch. His train was scheduled to depart in two minutes, but he knew that even if he were to return to normal, the shop was closed, and he was locked in. Walter decided to reserve a room in the hotel, so he walked up to the man at the front desk. After checking in, Walter went upstairs and tried to get some sleep even though the events of the day were a little abnormal and mysterious. Eventually sleep took over, and Walter didn’t awaken until the middle of the night.
It was pitch black, but there were streetlights in the everlasting alleys. Walter couldn’t fall asleep no matter how hard he tried, so he got up and decided to go for a walk, which wasn’t hard considering his mind had gotten the best of him yet again. He had only walked a block or two when he came upon a bar. Since the lights were on, Walter decided to walk in. He sat down at the counter and ordered a drink. He looked around as he slowly sipped the alcohol.
There were young women wearing their short, sleeveless dresses, there were gambling men, and there were others uttering to themselves. Walter quickly decided to leave. He dumped the bottle into the nearest trash can, and as he was leaving, he saw a homeless man stand up from his spot leaning against a shelter with a blanket wrapped around him. The man walked over to the trash can to investigate what Walter had discarded.
Walter’s mind pondered every idea to get out of Magic Town. He walked down the street only half-looking at the various buildings. The hotel lights were off, but the tattoo parlor – Weird Willy’s – was illuminated, and there was a young man with his shirt off getting a tattoo on his upper arm. He sat in a dark-colored chair, his muscular chest visible in the bright light. After walking up the steps back into The Darby Hotel, Walter decided that there was no way he could fall back into a peaceful sleep. Instead, he sat down in one of the armchairs and started to think about a way to get out. His brain was teased with all of the figures that had somehow come to life, and he had shrunk, or maybe not.
It seemed crazy, but the best thing he could come up with was that he, Walter himself, had turned into a famous statue. For some reason, this made him want to escape this fanaticized world even more. He was tired, but he saw people starting to wake up and bustle about, so he guessed the lights outside the small world would soon turn back on, and Magic Town would reopen. Walter was open to any idea at this point, after racking his brain for the past few hours. He saw a newspaper on the table, and in a last minute as hope started to escape, he started reading it. He saw the lights flicker on in the main shop, and soon all of the figurines were becoming statues again.
Walter’s mind was racing, then it was spinning, and soon he couldn’t move. Then his mind went blank. Walter couldn’t think straight or move any part of his body. His last thought was that if he could get through the day, then he might come back to life that night. For now, though, Walter was stuck in an armchair in the lobby of The Darby Hotel. His eyes were fixed on the newspaper. He couldn’t read anything more than the headline. The two dark words sat on the white paper like a bat in the middle of a group of ghosts . . . MAGIC TOWN.