Whatever Happened to
A young boy wakes up in the
Central Station and finds that he can see ghosts but grown-ups
cannot see him. He is arrested by the ghost police for talking to a
beautiful ghostly girl. The ghost police take him to the church who give
him to Mildred & Stella to look after. A host of people (living, dead,
ghostly, undeceased, alien, and transdimensional) get involved in
figuring out whatever happened to Zachary.
Chapter 1 - Mildred &
Mildred was tall and wide, and had a big upright shock of red hair,
beady eyes, and a frightening frown. She took no nonsense and she always
knew how to set incorrigible boys straight. Stella was tall and slender,
and had short black hair, beady eyes, and a crooked smile. She took no
notice of any nonsense whatsoever and always knew how to talk sense into
Chapter 2 - The Pig & the
Mildred & Stella had a parrot and a pig. No one had any idea where they
Chapter 3 - Father
Usually, Father Verity turned up with a child to be straightened out,
but this time he had turned up to warn them that a child would be coming
tomorrow - a little boy who had been found, Father Verity covered his
eyes in horror, living in the Central Station all on his own.
Chapter 4 - Zachary
Father Verity claimed that the little boy appeared to the dead as if he
were an ordinary living boy, and yet he could see the dead, and would
talk to them as if they were living (which frightened the life out of
dead people and generally caused them to run away).
Chapter 5 - The Lane
To hear Mr Maynard tell it, parcels of land at both ends of the block
had once been purchased by the same garage, and they had then purchased
from the developer a narrow little lane to connect their two properties.
Many neighbors had heard this story but few believed it because there
were some big old trees growing in the lane and they were so big and so
old that they would have made the lane impassable to cars decades ago.
Chapter 6 - The
The pig grunted at the little man, and the little man grunted
back at the pig (Zachary tried not to laugh), and the pig sounded
insistent and the little man sounded like he didn't believe it, and the
little man did some grumbling and some furious tapping of the keys...
Chapter 7 - Sarah
sat down with Sarah at the white plastic table and he helped her compose
a contract for the grown-ups to sign.
Chapter 8 - Aunt Alice
When Alice stood up and suddenly sprouted her chains and began her
horrible wailing, Zachary completely refused to cooperate. He turned the
other way, scrunched himself up into a ball and put his fingers in his
Chapter 9 - Mr Maynard
"Pig!" boomed a big voice from behind them. "Where are you going
with that boy?" Zachary was dumbfounded. Mr Maynard was the first
grown-up he'd met (who wasn't Father Verity or Mildred or Stella) who
could see him.
Chapter 10 - Uncle
In contrast to Alice, who could not contain her horror that the fleshy
sweaty child could apprehend and approach her cool clean ghostliness,
Claude spoke to Zachary as if he was just another ordinary dead person,
and he even tried to be charming, in a snake-tongued kind of way.
Chapter 11 - The Lane
Zachary gasped. The lane was full of ghosts, dozens and dozens
of them, glowing faintly in a rainbow of colors. Zachary studied them
for a few minutes and noticed that many were standing with drinks,
talking to one another, and that some were eating, and other dead people
were floating up and down with trays... after a while Zachary decided
that he was looking at a cafe for ghosts.
Chapter 12 - Journey to
Zachary found the design of the subway cars and the stations
absolutely engrossing and Mr Maynard had to keep telling him to sit down
properly in his seat because he wanted to spend the whole time kneeling
looking out the window so he could see all of each passing station.
Chapter 13 - The Ghost
Zachary asked the ghost doctor why dead people would ever need
medicine if they were dead. To which the ghost doctor laughed ruefully
and declared that Zachary had to be just what he looked like - an
ordinary living child - because no dead person could ever ask such a
question. Of course the dead got sick! Any number of ailments could
make them ill and especially their living relatives.
Chapter 14 - The Weather
The scanning took one whole hour. Zachary was extremely
patient: he stood there like a mime in a bank line. At first Mildred &
Stella were impressed, but later they became incredulous, and then
finally they got irritated because, frankly, most dead people in a
zombie-state weren't this excruciatingly patient.
Chapter 15 - Sarah's
"Where's that voice coming from?" Mary asked and Alison agreed.
Sarah and Tracy and Amanda didn't get it, and pointed at Zachary, but
Mary and Alison couldn't see any one sitting there.
Chapter 16 - All Hallows
The denizens gasped in horror. At first they couldn't believe
it. Then they realized that Mildred & Stella were right: he could
actually see them. Here was an ordinary living boy and he was talking to
Chapter 17 - Glimpses in
Muriel soon saw that her Jack was preparing a separate
plate of food for lunch. Then one day Muriel asked Jack about it, and he
pointed, and she looked around, and then she caught sight of Zachary in
the mirror on Mr Maynard's closet door, and suddenly she could see him.
Chapter 18 - Ice Cream in
The train stopped, and for a few seconds the lights were dimmed, and
suddenly, in a reflection in the window on the other side of the car,
Colin could see a little boy sitting next to Sarah, and it was indeed,
the same little boy he'd seen at the end of the corridor on All Hallows
Chapter 19 - Dean
They looked sideways and squinted at Father Verity, and probed
him about the Station Manager's report, and whether Dean Hillick had
actually read it for himself, and Father Verity admitted - with a cough
- that actually, um, he had summarized it for the Dean. Mildred toasted
scones and Stella got out the clotted cream and some of their billion
berry preserves and they switched on Zachary's electric fire and Father
Verity rubbed his hands in glee and put his feet by the fire.
Chapter 20 - Mildred &
And finally, how he'd brow-beaten them into allowing a trembling
toad of an actual living man from the cable company to enter their
delicious freezing cold damp dark kitchen and install - the very words
made them shudder - a Cybernet connection. Zachary explained what the
Cybernet was and how you could summon up no end of wonders, and Mildred
looked like she didn't believe a word of it, and Stella stuck her tongue
Chapter 21 - Board Games
with Mr Maynard
Alex and Felipe thought it was hilarious to be playing against
Mr Maynard, since he was the biggest landlord in the neighborhood, and
they particularly liked it when Mr Maynard got Christine to play too
because they were always teasing her that she was a bigger capitalist
than Mr Maynard.
Chapter 22 - Cards with
Super eights wasn't a very hard game to play, and at first Claude was
dismissive because he preferred games where victory depended on being
able to see through your opponents' cards, whereas this was just a
simple game of chance. There again, Alice remembered simple card games
from several different childhoods, and how she used to get into fights
with her brothers and sisters, and lost in reverie, she got carried away
and felt like a little girl again, and even laughed and clapped when she
won, and smacked Claude when she didn't.
Chapter 23 - The Parrot &
Then there was the parrot's bizarre game which truly convinced
the neighbors that something unworldly was going on here. The parrot had
a game in which he would perch on a branch in the tree at the end of Mr
Maynard's garden and fling a peg backwards over his head so that it
would fall in a long graceful arc 150 feet into a bucket hanging off the
Ferguason's deck. The strangest part of all this was not simply that the
parrot thought to do this in the first place but that he succeeded in
getting the peg into the bucket almost all of the time.
Chapter 24 - Valerie
Suddenly Mildred came running down the hallway and burst into the
kitchen and yelled at Zachary "It's that girl about the school!!!" and
then she threw open the back door and leapt outside. Stella and Zachary
sat there with their mouths hanging open. This was followed by an
immense swoosh of wailing dead people who also shot out the back door.
Chapter 25 - The Station
Valerie told him they thought his appearance here
couldn't have been an accident because it was too hard to make it happen
and that someone from far further upstairs than they could see must have
brought him here for a very good reason.
Chapter 26 - Mid Winter
Muriel went into a frenzy when she got the list and put
Christine on the job immediately and they went online and bought the
board game easily enough and then Muriel got into a panic because the
special gift pack of subway playing cards was sold out everywhere they
Chapter 27 - Pamela
Meanwhile, Mildred & Stella had the not inconsiderable problem of the
subway rides they had been cornered into promising Zachary. After
struggling to think of something for several weeks Mildred & Stella
suddenly had a brainwave: why not Pamela? The pig squealed. Father
Verity's face drained of all color. Dean Hillick shouted at them down
the phone. Alice & Claude, who were developing a very annoying fondness
for the little pink bunny, looked aghast, and reminded them that Pamela
actually frightened dead people even when she couldn't see them.
Chapter 28 - The Ghost
The next morning the TV crew banged on Mildred & Stella's front
door and pretended to be the city's Foster Care Inspection Service and
claimed that they had gotten complaints about witchcraft and animal
sacrifice and demanded to see the ward of the church, the poor little
boy who had been charged to the witches at this address.
Chapter 29 - The
Chloe, like her father, thought the stories about Mildred &
Stella were ridiculous; but unlike her father she thought they were just
cranky old ladies who were the victims of people's cruel imaginations.
Morgan, like her mother, thought that as long as no one was harmed,
people could believe whatever they wanted; but she went beyond her
mother in wanting to believe that the stories were true, and that there
really was an adorable little boy living upstairs - and right from the
start she longed to find him and rescue him.
Chapter 30 - The Star
Kelly stood back and suddenly Eve and Chloe could see a little
boy, about 8 years-old, standing there in his racing car pajamas,
shushing them because Star Dance was back from commercial.
Chapter 31 - Uncle
Zachary was very happy to play dice but he insisted on keeping
score and setting up a tournament and then after they'd played for a
while and he'd won 10 games in a row he tried to persuade Uncle
Friedrich to let Mildred & Stella and the pig and the parrot play too
(by telling them to raise their hands and vote yes) and Uncle Friedrich
couldn't believe the child's effrontery and upbraided Zachary for his
insolence. Zachary told him he was very rude and scrunched himself up on
his chair and looked the other way and they both glared at one another
out of the corners of their eyes.
Chapter 32 - The Family
When he got to his friend's apartment, Derek darted into
the living room and looked out the bay window and saw the little boy
standing by the front gate taking a picture of him with a MyPhone.
Chapter 33 - The Secret
Pamela told Zachary there was a reason no one ever went to
Mormais Cove in winter and no one ever rode all the way out to East Park
City at any time of the year but Zachary was too busy intently guiding
them back to the station with the satellite navigation in his MyPhone.
Chapter 34 - Morder
Then he came up with the brilliant idea of tagging along behind
Uncle Friedrich and talking to his victims and telling them to ignore
his poor uncle who was a famous philosopher and couldn't help himself.
Chapter 35 - Walter
Uncle Friedrich and Robert Solon sat on fungus covered
gravestones and reveled in the slimy cold and swapped stories of the
glories of yesteryear and how the living were messing up their legacy
with their wretched Cybernet which was making people too lazy to drive
Chapter 36 - Georgette
Zachary was so busy laughing at the pig's antics that he didn't
notice the little girl until he was standing right next to her -
suddenly there was a little girl on the other side of a gigantic spiky
bush. Zachary stepped back in amazement. It was the beautiful ghostly
girl from the Central Station.
Chapter 37 - The Treehouse
in the Snow
The little old man was of the opinion that either he would
have to go with Georgette or she would have to stay with him because
someone had clearly gone to a lot of trouble to bring the two of them
Chapter 38 - The
Lord Aristoffanes turned up his nose at Zapestra's tawdry tale
but the Lady Aristoffanes was mesmerized by the videograph of Zachary
reading the restaurant menu.
Chapter 39 - The Playdate
The next day, after school, in the treehouse, Zachary
explained the concept of the 'play-date' to Georgette. It was a period
of play and exploration, to be supervised by a highly intelligent and
very kind pig, in a long living lane full of exotic plants. Georgette
giggled and asked how long play-dates lasted and Zachary replied an hour
or two and sometimes an afternoon or however long it took to ride on the
subway to the beach and back.
Copyright Christopher Stephen Toulouse.
Brooklyn, NY. 2013