A small tank engine rolled down the line with two coaches. The sun was high in the sky and there was not a sound to be heard. The engine had a big smile on his face, so did his loyal coaches. "We're almost there Thomas" called the driver was they neared a station. The small tank engine, named Thomas, showed an even bigger smile. As he rolled in he saw three figures on the platform. Two were standing; the other was in a wheel chair. Thomas slowly rolled to a stop right near the figures.
"Hello Christopher, Hello Mrs. Allacroft, and hello dad" said Thomas, acknowledging the three figures. "Thomas, how many times do I have to tell you, just call me Britt" the one lady said. "I know, but STH has always told me that you should always address people who are higher than you with either Mr. or Mrs." said Thomas with a slight smile. "Oh, don't listen to STH about manners, just call us how you would call all your friends" said an older looking man. "Okay Christopher" said Thomas, and he then looked at the man in the wheel chair. "Hello dad, how are you" he asked. The man chuckled. "Just fine Thomas, just fine" said Mr. Awdry happily. Thomas had always called Wilbert dad, mainly because he was the one who created him. "Oh and how's mom" he asked. "She is doing great" said Wilbert. The one who they were referring to was Margaret Awdry, this was because since Wilbert is Thomas' dad, she can technically be Thomas' mom, and also, Thomas thinks of Christopher as his brother.
Then Thomas' whistle sounded. "Time to go Thomas" called his driver. Thomas looked back at all of them. "Sorry I can't stay and talk some more" said Thomas sadly. "Don't worry Thomas, you just get your work done" said Britt. "We'll come by another time" said Christopher. "And remember, always listen and do what you are told" said Wilbert with a smile. Thomas blew his whistle one last time. Soon his wheels started to move. "Goodbye" said Thomas. "Goodbye" they all called. Soon Thomas was on his way again; felling much more cheerful then he had been a few minutes ago.
March 22, 1997
Thomas was once again puffing towards the small station on his branchline. It was time for Britt, Christopher, and Wilbert to visit again. But as Thomas pulled into the station, he noticed something wrong. Like always, Britt and Christopher were on the platform, but Wilbert wasn't. Thomas slowly came to a stop next to the two. "Hello" said Thomas happily. But the two were silent. The only sounds that could be heard were the passengers and the shunter uncoupling Thomas from the coaches so he could get a quick inspection. "What's wrong" Thomas looked around "and where's dad" he asked. Thomas then saw that Britt was close to tears, and Christopher looked very sad. "Thomas, we have some bad news" said Christopher. "What is it, has my show been canceled" asked Thomas. "No Thomas, it much worse" said Britt softly. Thomas was even more confused. Christopher gave a sad huff "Thomas, Wilbert, our dad, well, he um, he died yesterday".
Thomas gasped, he was shocked. Then, he felt angry, and then, it vanished and was replaced by sorrow. Tears filled his eyes as he stared at the two. "What, but, how" he asked. "He was 86, that's pretty old" said Britt. "He just couldn't hold on anymore" said Christopher. Thomas said nothing, he could not believe that his dad, the man that maid his who he is today, was now gone. At this moment, Thomas then flew down the line, leaving his passengers, Britt and Christopher, and Annie and Clarabel behind. "Thomas wait" said Christopher, but Thomas was already too fall away to hear him.
Thomas flew down the tracks, going faster and faster. His driver and fireman tried to stop him, but he wouldn't stop. "Thomas, stop" called the fireman. "NO" yelled Thomas. His face was full of tears and his mind was racing. "How could this have happened? Why couldn't I have been there? Why" he kept asking himself.
He then approached a siding near a signal box. The signal man had been told about Thomas, so he set the points to the siding. The fireman screwed on the brakes, and luckily they worked. Thomas' eyes were shut, but then they opened when they hit the buffers. Thomas tried to reverse back, but his driver and fireman had already put his fire out. "That's enough Thomas" said his driver. "Just leave me alone" said Thomas with tearful eyes.
A horn was then heard, and then Bertie the bus pulled up next to the siding. Then Christopher and Britt walked out and over to Thomas. "Please, just leave me alone" he said with his eyes shut. "Listen Thomas, I know this is hard, but the good news is that he is peaceful now. He had no more aics, pains, or worries" said Christopher. "Everything will be fine" said Britt. Thomas opened his eyes and looked down at them. "Positive" he asked. "Positive" said Britt. "Okay then" said Thomas. "So, why don't we go tell the others" said Christopher. "Alright" said Thomas softly. They then relit his fire, reversed out of the siding, and set off towards Tidmouth.
At Tidmouth Sheds, the engines had just returned from a hard day's work. Edward, Henry, James, Toby, and Duck were all resting. But Gordon was just getting ready. He had to take the night time express. Percy also had to get ready; he had to take the mail train. Soon Thomas pulled onto the turntable. "Hello Thomas" said Percy. "I should move so you can have your spot" said Toby. "Actually Toby, just stay there for now, there's something we have to tell you" said Thomas. "What do you mean 'we'" asked Duck. Then Britt and Christopher climbed down from Thomas' cab and walked to the front of him. The other engines whistled. "Hello Christopher, Hello Mrs. Allacroft" they all said. "How many times am I going to be called that" she whispered to Chirstopher. "Anyway guys, we have some bad news" said Thomas. "What is it" asked Henry. Christopher walked forward. "Unfortunately, Wilbert has passed away" he said sadly.
The engines didn't say anything, but Thomas could just look at their faces to tell what they were thinking. Duck looked like someone said they had sold him for scrap. Toby looked like he wanted to hide. Percy looked like he did after he fell into the sea. James looked as sad as when STH said he would paint him blue. Gordon looked like someone had taken the express from him. Henry looked like when he had crashed with the flying kipper. And Edward, well, he was actually crying. This could be mostly because he was the first one introduced in the railway series, so he had Wilbert had been close.
"What do you mean" asked Percy. "He died yesterday Percy, he's not here anymore" said Britt. Their faces stayed the same. Then Gordon's driver walked up. "Time to go Gordon" he said happily. "I'm not going" said Gordon angrily. "Of course you are, it's your job to pull the express" he said. "Give it to Boco, I don't care, but I'm not going" he yelled. The driver was surprised, but he then walked away to tell the station master to find Boco. Now Thomas was surprised, he never expected Gordon to give up the express, especially to a diesel. But then Percy's driver walked up. "Time to do the mail run Percy" he said as he began to climb into Percy's cab. "No" said Percy sternly. "What do you mean no" asked his driver. "I'm not delivering the mail today, give it to Bill and Ben" he once again said sternly. Percy's driver was even more confused than Gordon's, but he left to find Bill and Ben.
Then Thomas looked at Edward, who was still crying. "Are you okay Edward" asked Thomas. Edward stopped crying and sniffed. "Ya, I'll be fine, I know he's in a better place" he said sadly. Britt then called everyone's attention. "Okay, so to let you know, you are all invited to the funeral". "What's a funeral" asked Percy. "It's what they hold when someone dies so you can say goodbye one last time" said Christopher. "Okay, thank you" they all said. Soon Toby had moved out of Thomas' spot and Thomas was now there. "Get a good night sleep, the funeral will be tomorrow at 5 pm" said Christopher. Then he and Britt climbed into Toby's cab so he could take them home. "I'm sure riding in my cab will help cheer Christopher up" said Toby, knowing Christopher's liking of steam trams. Then he puffed away towards Knaphord Station.
That night, the engines didn't sleep. They were so upset that they went strait to sleep. And as Thomas fell asleep, he though about tomorrow. "Tomorrow, I will say my Goodbye" he said sternly, and then closed his eyes and went to sleep.
The next day, 6 pm
The engines were all parked next to a small cemetery. The steamies were facing one direction, and the diesels were facing the other direction. The narrow guage engines were on some tracks that were also near the cemetery. All road vehicles were parked on the road, but they were close enough to see and hear what was going on.
"And we will all miss him, may he rest in peace" said someone before sitting back down on the chairs near the coffin. Then Christopher walked up. "And now, let's let the engines speak".
Thomas spoke. "We've made a small speech that represents all of us" he said. And he began the speech.
"While some may say it's hard to be an engine, we think of it as a different way of anyone's life. Mr. Awdry at first created us to entertain Christopher, but now look of what we've become. Our stories have been told all over the world. From being dragged behind an express, to running over someone's bike. These stories have made millions happy, and it's all because one man cared enough to write them down. While it may be a long time before we speak to him again, we know that he is always with us. It doesn't matter if you're a steamy, a diesel, a narrow guage engine, or any other vehicle, we are all part of Mr. Awdry's world. For this we thank you, and let us hope that our stories will live on, and your name will be known by all who know us."
And with that, Thomas finished. The audience clapped, moved by what Thomas had said.
Soon the funeral was over, and everyone started to leave. After the guest left, those on the road left. Then the diesels and narrow guage engines left. And one by one, the steamies left. The last two there were Edward and Thomas. "I'll miss you sir" said Edward, and then he left. Thomas was the last one there. He looked at Wilbert's grave thoughtfully. "Goodbye dad, I know you will look over us" and with that, Thomas left.
But then, a man walked from behind a tree. He looked down the line to see Thomas chuffing away. "Goodbye Thomas, I will miss you" he said with a smile. And then he turned around, and disappeared.
Rev. W. Awdry: (June 15, 1911 to March 21, 1997)
Hope you liked this chapter. The next one will be for David Mittion. R&R.