Mildred and Stella's Grand Vacation


Zachary finds out a lot more about Mildred & Stella and goes on a series of subway adventures with Pamela all over the sprawling metropolis of Big Hat. He meets a little boy called Max; Stella's grown-up son Gustavo; and Mildred & Stella's old friend, the granny in the flying arm chair, Aunt Persethememe. When Big Hat's Member of the Parliament of the Dead retires, Aunt Persethememe is ready to take his place, but Zachary has other ideas and persuades Mr Maynard to run in the bye-election.

Chapter 1 - The Lane in Spring

The neighbors - being living people - loved the Spring: they relished the fresh air, they loved the warm breezes, and they jumped at the chance to go out in the garden in T-shirts and shorts. However, the denizens of the lane - being dead people - hated the Spring: they detested the fresh air, they loathed the warm breezes, and they couldn't stand the neighbors parading around their gardens all evening, dressed in their underwear and yacking over the fences.

Chapter 2 - The Aggrieved Parties

Chloe recommended that they do what she had done to find out if Zachary was really there: figure out where Georgette was and grab her. Colin looked highly dubious but everyone cheered at the idea of stuffing Georgette in a sack.

Chapter 3 - Pirates!

Mildred & Stella wobbled for a moment, then they raised their arms in the air, clenched their fists, and chanted in unison. There was a brilliant flash and a loud bang and suddenly all the uglak fell down - and it was quiet and the dust settled and the uglak started snoring.

Chapter 4 - Mildred & Stella's Vocation

Zachary thought he already knew what they did for the church: they scared bad kids straight. But, said Mildred & Stella ominously, there was more to it than that. Mildred & Stella looked at one another, and then they looked at Zachary, and then they had to snatch the subway map away from him again.

Chapter 5 - Prison Island

Then Zachary got out the little desk bell Stella had given him for the occasion: the one he was supposed to hit every time Fred swore. Mildred began telling Fred about their fourth son, Nothanoy, and Fred let loose a fusillade of expletives and Zachary went ding-ding-ding-ding-ding with his bell.

Chapter 6 - Gustavo & Pamela

Gustavo was mesmerized by Zachary's "total knowledge" of the game and his wisdom about its "deep strategy". This went out for about two hours, during which he easily beat Gustavo and Dr Scotchbee, and after which Mildred was fast to sleep, and Stella was only half-asleep because Mildred kept snoring and waking her up.

Chapter 7 - Max

Agent Max laughed at the feeble attempts of the Evil Camp Guard and her dim-witted minions. From his all-seeing position on the treehouse roof, he yelled at Kelly that she'd never find him, and that her ghost noises were "totally bogus" (which caused the Special Ghouls' Chorus to fall out of their tree).

Chapter 8 - Incident at the North Beaches

Max shouted that they were being followed by other speed boats and Pamela cheered and told them that it was her friends and they were racing to Loop Island and back. The kids squealed and thrashed around and Max twisted backwards and fired his pocket bazooka at the chasing pack.

Chapter 9 - Alfred's Department Store

This was the point at which Father Verity got out his MyPhone and called Dean Hillick. In the middle of his phone call, an ostrich trotted down the corridor, scattering startled shoppers in her wake. She stopped in front of Valerie carrying an important message in her beak.

Chapter 10 - Aunt Persethememe

The old lady snapped her fingers and in an instant his clothes had turned to pastels again, and with a quick "See you later!" Aunt Persethememe vanished before their very eyes.

Chapter 11 - The Big Hat Stride

The biggest cheer was earned by the Stride's famous designated whacker, Big Berta Roy. In the third frame Big Berta smacked the ball out on to the further field terraces, with two whackers on the bags, and scored three rounds in one.

Chapter 12 - The Big Hat Step

Twice they were challenged by security staff but Pamela pointed at Georgette and Georgette pointed at Zachary (which somehow made him visible to them) and Zachary explained that they were listening to see if anyone was inside the living rooms and the staff nodded as if it all made sense (because that was what adorable children did) and so they went on their away.

Chapter 13 - Blackwell Island

Mildred & Stella and their giant frog-headed child walked through the pouring rain toward the northern end of the island. There was a crackling display of thunder and lightening over the city and Mildred & Stella kept hopping and jumping around in time to it. At first the giant frog-headed child told them off - but then he began to laugh and join in too.

Chapter 14 - The Septagon

When they got into the lobby of the Septagon, and Zachary could put his frog umbrella down, he told them that he knew they were going to see Aunt Persethememe. Mildred & Stella were amazed at his perspicacity but Zachary smiled and pointed upwards, and there hovering over them was the granny in the flying arm chair.

Chapter 15 - The Middle Park Museum

Zachary sat and fumed for a little while and finally decided that using people to get you snacks was okay (and he did it all the time) but that the people ought to know they were getting you a snack (and not just snacking for you). So he opened his backpack and got out his frog umbrella (because it had scared the badheads on Blackwell Island) and he stood up and opened it and went over to the badheads and told them off - in no uncertain terms - for being so rude to the living.

Chapter 16 - Max in Space

Max decided there must be invisible aliens in the long corridor (which there were) and that they could get him a ride into space (which they could).

Chapter 17 - Found in the Lane

They grabbed the invisible chain, and yanked it, and got wound up into the invisible treehouse - where they found, once they had assembled themselves - a funny old man dressed in a big white sheet. He had a big bulbous nose and cauliflower ears and big kind eyes and he said his name was "Agride".

Chapter 18 - The Work of the Church

Mildred & Stella said that running study groups was part of what Father Verity had to do to be promoted to Dean when he died.

Chapter 19 - Agride

Agride was thunderstruck when they all waltzed in to the church hall together - Zachary and Sarah & Tracy and Colin and Father Verity. Agride couldn't believe that Father Verity had brought children into the study group and that there were females among them!

Chapter 20 - Constitution Day

Mildred & Stella knew about boys and boys liked fireworks and so they expected Zachary to be excited but, alas, to their dismay Zachary was not. Zachary explained that he liked the colors of fireworks but he didn’t like the explosions and sometimes they were so loud he had to watch the fireworks with his fingers in his ears and then he couldn’t hear the music.

Chapter 21 - Getting Organized

One dark and stormy night at the end of June, with sheet lightening flashing across the sky, and thunder rumbling in the distance, Chocho roused Zachary and pushed and prodded his sleepy hulk toward the window and lo and behold, at the bottom of the garden, Zachary saw Mildred & Stella waiting - and then Pamela came through the gate from the lane.

Chapter 22 - Feeding the Living

Zachary arrived in Muriel’s kitchen with long lists. He had been talking with Valerie and he knew exactly what they needed to do.

Chapter 23 - Bagging the Frang

Meanwhile, in orbit, looking down from far above, and doing a fine job, the Agrofonic Frang (a cold white cloud with all-hearing ears and all-seeing eyes) was looking forward to the fire works show way down below in the skies above Big Hat.

Chapter 24 - The Aquarium

So Zachary told Mildred & Stella what Georgette had told him about the Frang, and how they could listen from orbit, and then zip down to the surface and watch, and Mildred & Stella were all agog, because they only knew the part about listening from orbit. Then they said they knew nothing about any of that (which was true) and insisted the little white cloud was a fish.

Chapter 25 - The Treehouse Marauder

It was a hot soupy morning in the middle of July and there was pandemonium in the lane. Zachary and Chocho had just met Sarah & Tracy at Mildred & Stella's gate when Agride raised the alarm. He came wading down the lane complaining that someone had scribbled graffiti on the treehouses in the middle of the night.

Chapter 26 - The Sirens' Day Parade

The interlopers looked like bubble-headed robots on wheels (because they were), the Stilt-People from the Underchanges in the Bontahopa (Georgette squealed and started jumping up and down), and the Grand Dragoness of Picquantinck (for it was she).

Chapter 27 - Mildred & Stella's Big Surprise!

Then the "Surprise!" was on Mildred & Stella when suddenly, right in front of them, they found Gustavo with his arm around Pamela.

Chapter 28 - Mr Bodley's Moment

The little boy welcomed everyone to Alice & Claude's laser emporium and pointed behind them - and when they turned around again they found Alice & Claude, floating in the air, larger than life, and looming over them.

Chapter 29 - The Mansion on Bug Island

The honorable Doctor Eduardo Hussenfuss (deceased), Member of the Parliament of the Dead for the venerable constituency of Big Hat [and the Galactic Brim], former Secretary of Deathcare and Minister for Social Insecurity, and former Lord Mayor of the Bontahopa.

Chapter 30 - Professor Hussenfuss's Announcement

Professor Hussenfuss summoned the flying waiters and called for a slyberry cordial and in a few moments he raised his glass and offered a toast to his successor, the venerable Aunt Persethememe, and he asked, rhetorically, if any one knew of any one more qualified to represent Big Hat [and the Galactic Brim] in Parliament?

Chapter 31 - The Study Group

Whereupon Agride seized a giant inflatable bag ball paddle and started to beat Uncle Friedrich with it. Then Delacor & Mirise seized bag ball paddles and started to attack Uncle Friedrich and Mr Frost & Mr Mellon grabbed bag ball paddles and started to attack Agride.

Chapter 32 - Stating Conclusions

Zachary suggested that there should be an election among the gods so they could elect a President and then there would be someone in charge - an idea that Agride and Uncle Friedrich found so preposterous that it temporarily rendered them both speechless.

Chapter 33 - The Big Hat Bye-Election

Professor Hussenfuss called a press conference and announced his retirement and endorsed Aunt Persethememe and assured the deathly public that she was ready to serve the dead of Big Hat once again.

Chapter 34 - The Campaign

And thus it came to pass that the regular candidates faced a frosty reception in the lane. Robert Solon was greeted by the Special Ghouls' Chorus imitation of horn-honking gridlock; Uncle Friedrich got hissed even more vehemently than usual; and the denizens helped Max steal Uncle Karl's hoopball. Aunt Persethememe got fidgeted at by a lot of denizens who didn't want to be turned into ostriches.

Chapter 35 - Election Night

It was the night of the election. Everyone was in Mildred & Stella's kitchen standing around Zachary's MyBox: Booka & Chocho were there, and so was the parrot, and Georgette was there with Zapestra. Mildred & Stella were strategically seated in the back.

Chapter 36 - Journey to Crystal City

When the train started Uncle Friedrich's feet began to float up to the ceiling and he was soon floating at right angles to them as if he were weightless. And then, as the train picked up speed, he was tossed around like a doll on a string, up and down and all around - and he was laughing and cheering and whooping as if he was on a rollercoaster and having the time of his life.

Chapter 37 - Customs & Immigration

The (very muddy) face proceeded to list a series of warrants that were out for Mildred & Stella's arrest. Zachary raised his eyebrows but Mildred & Stella told him to take no notice of any of this because they were just charges trumped up by their rivals in the "security systems business".

Chapter 38 - The Grand Opera Teahouse

Zachary found it all quite charming but he wasn't entirely sure if everyone else was having a good time; everyone was very polite and well-mannered, but at one point Mildred & Stella assured Dean Hillick that he had never looked worse and later Dean Hillick complimented Mildred & Stella on being shadows of their former selves.

Chapter 39 - Mr Maynard's Proxy

Professor Hussenfuss stood at a dias and announced to everyone that the rules committee of the Parliament had decided that Valerie must be the official proxy and cast votes for Mr. Maynard because Zachary wasn't old enough, but that they understood that it would have to be Zachary who conveyed Mr. Maynard's instructions to Valerie.

Copyright Christopher Stephen Toulouse.
Brooklyn, NY. 2013