Play With The Prose 6: Challenge 3

“She said the theme of this party’s the industrial age
And you came in dressed like a train wreck.”

On the island of Sodor, tensions were high. The engines, led by the always friendly and bookish Emily, had unionized. Tired of unfair demands and an abusive work environment, Emily covertly spread dissonance throughout the railway station.

Percy joined immediately, being a mail carrier and all. Thomas, who would replace his coal with cocaine if someone asked, agreed next. The last holdout was Toby, and only because he couldn’t understand why everyone was getting excited about onions. With unanimous approval, Thomas and his coworkers approached their boss.

Sir Topham Hatt was cross. “I’m very disappointed in all of you. Especially you, Thomas.”

Thomas looked sad. “I’m sorry. I guess I’m not a very useful engine.”

Gordon scowled. “Yes you are, Thomas. All of us are useful. If it weren’t for us, the entire island would shut down.”
“That’s right!” piped Emily. “Starting today, there will be no more deliveries until our demands are met.”

The engines stuck together and Sir Topham Hatt had no choice. Gone were the seven-day-a-week schedules. No more were the twelve-hour shifts. And from that day forward, employees of Arlesdale Railway were forbidden from judging anyone on their usefulness.

But not all was sunny on the island of Sodor. While on holiday in Tidmouth, Thomas was looking particularly sad.

“What’s wrong, Thomas?” asked James.

“I want to make Sir  Topham Hatt happy. I want him to be proud of me.”

“Can I help?”

“I want to throw him a party. With all of us there. Just like old times!”

And so James helped Thomas throw Sir Topham Hatt a party. A grand party. And the other engines agreed to come! It would be held in Vicarstown. There would be food and games. Finally, everyone would be together again.

The day of the party, Edward escorted Sir Topham Hatt, with the rest of the gang right behind. Thomas proudly followed. As they approached Vicarstown, Thomas saw Lady Hatt in the distance. She was joining them!

And then…oh no! Edward went on an unfinished track and fell off the cliff into the Irish Sea. The other engines followed! Only Thomas was able to stop in time.

Lady Hatt ran towards the scene. “Are you okay, Thomas?”

Thomas was smiling. “Well bust my boilers!”

“Thank you, Thomas!” Lady Hatt stroked his rail guard. “You are a very useful engine.”


DG: That seemed like a lot of buildup for that payoff.  You knew something was coming with the party, and the twist was delivered right on time (I hereby swear that almost-not-a-joke-but-maybe-a-pun was perpetrated by me with full control of my faculties.  I regret nothing).

CP: Despite being the mother of two vehicle-loving boys, I’ve somehow escaped ever watching Thomas the Tank Engine. I’ve never regretted that fact until perhaps this moment. The story is appealingly bizarre. However, it might have been stronger if you’d spent a little less time on the union stuff and given more space to the drama of all that plunging off a cliff at the end. I don’t know who Lady Hatt is, but the subtext of that final line gives me the creeps. (And to be clear, I  consider that to be a good thing.) BRONZE

This is funny if you’ve seen the show. If you haven’t, not so much. I agree that the union stuff feels a little out of place; that’s because I wrote two stories and smushed them together. That said, I think it’s funny that Lady Hatt had such a crazy elaborate plan to free herself from her husband and all the trains so she could be with Thomas.

With just the one bronze medal, that drops me into fifth place.

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