ERS 196 - Mavis the Quarry Engine

ERS 196 - Mavis the Quarry Engine - Christopher

One thing I enjoy about the Extended Railway Series is finding new ways of telling a story – often than not, it’s the characters themselves that inspire as much as the unusual railway incidents we find. Ajani originally came up with this idea to begin with, but was unable to write the volume himself. Of course, I didn’t want to see such a good idea go to waste, so I offered to write it for him.

TWO'S COMPANY
Mavis is missing Ted’s company up at the quarry, to the point where she begins talking to herself to pass the time. The trucks convince Toby that Mavis is starting to go mad...but late one stormy night, a strange horse-like animal visits Mavis in her shed, and spends the night in the empty berth next to her. In the morning the animal has gone, but Toby isn’t sure whether to believe Mavis or not...

MAVIS HITS THE ROOF
Now here’s where it really gets interesting. It was here we, the ERS team, felt that there was little else we could do with Rosie – nobody had really used her since her debut in the Library, and she hadn’t played a major role for some time. Rather than make a big song and dance about her leaving, we simply packed her off to a cosy Heritage Railway somewhere.
However, we also decided to use this as a pivotal role to Mavis’ volume. Upon hearing of Rosie’s leave of Sodor, Mavis begins to feel depressed – everyone seems to be going places, doing new things, and she’s still stuck at the quarry, all alone. Then things take a turn for the worse when another bad storm causes a rockslide to fall through her shed...

PERCY WORKS IT OUT
While Mavis is away being mended, Percy is loaned to help Toby with work at the quarry (donning cowcatchers and side-plates as before). And during one such trip, he discovers the “horse” that Mavis had talked about – only it turns out to be a Llama, which had escaped from a local farm. After a rather nasty confrontation with the animal, Percy’s Driver alerts the Stationmaster, who contacts the farm to bring the animal safely under control. The engines are glad to hear that Mavis isn’t going crazy after all, but they hope that she’ll be all right regardless...
This was a fun story to write, one of my favourites. It’s not uncommon for British farmers to herd Llamas, and we thought it would make an interesting change to the usual sheep or cattle. Again, it played an important part in Mavis’ story here.

VALUED
Mavis has been mended, but she’s still feeling depressed – nothing that Wendell can say or do can cheer her up. Until one day, Bad Bob breaks down and is unable to clear the yard for another engine due in for repairs. Mavis volunteers to help, and she soon has the yard in good order. When Wendell returns with the engine in question, it’s none other than Kaiser the Fireless Engine. Kaiser has heard about Mavis feeling down, and reminds her that if she hadn’t come to build the Oil Refinery (ERS #56) he wouldn’t have a place to call home. Mavis is touched by this, and when she returns home the Quarrymen (and even the trucks!) give her a warm welcome. Toby adds that if she feels lonely again, she is still a welcome visitor to Ffarquhar Sheds...