It was a tepid autumn morning on the
Other Railway. Derek the Discombobulated Engine was excited. The Thin Git had
sent him to collect an especially special special from Ginny Cotton, the Welsh
demolition tycoon and childrens media mogul.
"Bang on, Derek," Miss Ginny
said, as he clunked into the station. "You're a real chip off the old
"Thanks, Miss Ginny!" he
said, "although I haven't had any chips today. They're bad for my
"No, Derek. It's just my
catchphrase. It makes me endearing, or so my marketing team says."
"Oh, yes," said Derek,
ditzily. "Sorry, Miss Ginny. Is this my special?"
"Very special," she answered,
patting the flatbed before him, "in every sense of the word."
The special appeared to be some sort of
gormless construction machine. It was tall and black and boxy, with six small
wheels wrapped in caterpillar tracks and an old pig's trough nailed crudely to
its front. Derek had never seen such a bizarre bulldozer before, yet there was
something familiar about its thin, pale face and wide, brain-dead smile that he
couldn't quite put his buffer on.
"I'm Dax the Dozer!" the
machine whirred proudly. "I can scoop and dump, and push lots of heavy
"I can honk and
self-destruct," boasted Derek, as if it was worth boasting about.
"And I can get you two
chatterboxes off to the site," laughed Miss Ginny. "Oh, I'm such a
relatable female role model! A woman - with welly boots! How
Soon, Derek and Dax were coasting
happily along the line. Well, at least Derek was happy. Dax was looking far
more sullen and sulky now. Derek tried to brighten the mood.
"Is this your first time at the
site?" he called.
"Of course it is, Derek, you
combustable clod!" said Dax. "It's me, Diesel!"
Derek jumped. Of course it was Diesel!
The crinkled sour mug glaring down at him was unmistakable.
"Diesel!" Derek cried.
"You're Miss Ginny's special? But why are you dressed up like a
"The Thin Git made me," said
Diesel, grumpily. "Apparantely, Miss Ginny's jealous of all the cheap
merchandise he's made of us for the station gift shops over the years. She's
getting the Barrow Demolition Crew to knock down the old Woolworths up the road
and build her own toy factory."
"Oh goody!" said Derek.
"That'll make the Children very happy!"
"Yes, and the Thin Git very
unhappy!" said Diesel. "If that toy shop gets built, Miss Ginny is
going to start making cheap toys of her own mindless machines and steal all our
customers! The Thin Git's making me go undercover to sabotage the operation,
hence these hideous caterpillars. Yippee for me."
"Well, good luck, I suppose,
Diesel," said Derek, "and watch out for those caterpillars. I had a
nest of them in my undercarriage last summer. Itched like the Dickens, let me
Diesel shuddered. The image of Derek's
undercarriage was now seared into his brain for all eternity.
As well as yours.
Yeah. Happy Halloween, suckers.
Soon, Derek delivered Diesel to the
site. All the demolition machines were busy preparing the site for the new toy
factory and showing off to investors all the moving parts and accessories their
models could have.
Diesel couldn't wait to get his mission
over with. He shuffled grudgingly towards a big green digger, who was proudly
admiring the sandpit he had just dug.
"Hello there," the digger
said, waving his arm, "you must be our new overeager-but-good-hearted
rookie character. How pleasant! I'm Derek."
"Yes, because that won't get
confusing," muttered Diesel.
"Pardon?" asked Derek.
"I mean, erm, I'm Dax," said
Diesel, switching back to Gormless Idiot mode. "Can you tell me where the
munitions are kept?"
"Oh my, no," the digger
replied kindly. "I'm just the middle-aged mentor figure for our other
overeager-but-good-hearted rookie character. Ask Don Juan."
Don Juan the Dozer was wooing
passers-by with his giant blade and even more giant moustashe. His facial hair
alone was bigger than Diesel's pig trough.
"Hola, senor!" he called.
"I am the great Don Juan; the big, strong musclehead with the heart of
gold! You are the new rookie, si?"
I'm Dax!" chirruped Diesel.
"Can you tell me where the munitions are kept?"
"I do not know, senor,"
boomed Don Juan. "My character does not have enough development yet. Try
Kim the Non-Gender-Specific Demolition Crane."
Diesel, puzzed, trundled over to the
large purple crane knocking down an old portaloo nearby.
"I'm Dax!" Diesel began.
"Mind my paint!" snapped a
little pink excavator who was fawning over Don Juan.
"Rossellini!" scolded Kim.
"Sorry," said Rossellini,
"I'm the token bitchy one who's obsessed with their appearance but still
always gets the job done no matter what. You eying me up,
"No!" spluttered Diesel.
"Sorry, it's just you remind me of someone I know."
"That's because you might know her
identical twin sister from the Scarface Railway," said Kim. "I know
that because I'm the resident old and wise character who's been with the team
since day one and knows literally everything about everything because I'm just
that fantastic. You're also 58 years old and had Lidl's own brand petrol for
"He's right!" gasped Diesel,
"or she's right. Oh god, I must sound so insensitive!"
"That's all right," said Kim,
"not everyone is as well-rounded a character as I am. Welcome to the Crew,
and if you want to find those munitions I know you're looking for-"
"See the munitions vans!"
Rossellini said cheekily. "They're off bullying Carter somewhere!
Diesel's mind boggled as he rumbled
over the hill to the other side of the site.
stereotypes, omnipotent oldies, brain-dead bullies... The Thin Git was right!
Miss Ginny will steamroller us in the diversity department alone!"
Diesel found Carter buried up to his
nose in mud. Carter is almost identical to Derek (not that one), but slightly
smaller and a lot younger. He makes the hardest playsets to sell seem like good
value for money.
"I'm Dax!" said Diesel, his
mouth getting tired from smiling so much. "I'm here to help!"
The little digger gleefully shook Diesel's
trough with his arm. "More help means more characters! More characters
means more toys! More toys means more money! I'm Carter!"
Diesel was about to get Carter (Heh.)
when suddenly a dozen or so huge, identical explosives vans roared by.
"The Van Clan!" cried Carter
and buried himself deeper into his mudhole.
"So they're the munitions
vans," said Diesel, "but there are so many of them - and they all
look the same! My god, Miss Ginny would make a fortune just making toys from
these ugly brutes!"
One of the vans sped towards Diesel
with the kind of smile only a ventriloquist dummy could love.
"Look out, Dax!" cried
The van stopped just in time. Diesel
refused to move; either that or his caterpillars were stuck in his siderods
"I'm Dan!" said the van,
boorishly, "and we're the Van Clan, buddy! That's Han, Jan, Stan, Fran,
er, Gran, um, oh, Van, and, erm, um; oh, who cares, we'll name the rest of us
later! Out of our way!"
"Stop your generic bullying!"
said Diesel, boredly. "I just want your bloody dynamite."
The Van Clan were surprised at Diesel's
"Can't you play along?"
snorted Dan. "We don't have much else in the way of character, other than
being big fat arseholes."
"Then you're gonna love me,"
said Diesel. "So come on, gimme your goods. Now."
"We just deliver the stuff,"
Dan grumbled. "Talk to Lenny. He guards the stuff," and the vans all
dieselled away to bother each other.
"Finally, we're getting
somewhere," groaned Diesel and trundled off again, leaving Carter stuck
firmly in the mud.
"Thank you, Dax!" said
Carter. "Now, where did I put all those mud pies?"
Lenny the Byzantine Battering Ram was
cheerfully banging his head against the munitions shed. Lenny had a big ram and
a big heart and a big space where his brain should be. Sometimes his ram is too
powerful, so Miss Ginny has to reinforce all the Demolition Crew's buildings
with quintuple-thick titanium. It was that or have Lenny knock down all their
hard work just by rolling past for termite spray.
Diesel oiled up to the battering ram.
Finally he could put his plan into action.
"Careful, Balsa Wood-for-Brains!
You were supposed to move these explosives hours ago!"
"I was?" said Lenny, still
dizzy from his headbanging. "I don't remember that!"
"Yes, you do," said Diesel.
"Miss Ginny said it was far too dangerous to keep such volatile material
on a building site. Imagine if someone mistook them for fizzy drinks, man!
Think of the mess!"
"Goodness, you're right!"
said Lenny. "Sorry, new guy! What'll I do?"
"Empty that shed and bring all the
horrid dynamite to the top of the hill. I'll get rid of it for you."
"How kind of you," said
Kevin. "Thanks, new guy!"
"Dax," sneered Diesel,
"and believe me, the pleasure is all mine."
Lenny's confused banksman emptied the
munitions shed and let Lenny follow Diesel up the hill with a little red wagon
in tow, piled high with barrels of dynamite and gunpowder.
"I must be careful, I must be
careful, I must be careful," he said, running over six workmen's feet
along the way.
At last they reached the top. Diesel
looked down on all the other machines hard at work on the site and grinned
"Let's see you sell your toys
without any factory," he cackled to himself, "or indeed, any
characters! Stand aside, Leonard! I'll get rid of the nasty boomsticks for
Diesel wrenched the wagon from Lenny's
grip and began pushing it towards the edge of the hill.
"Phew!" said Lenny.
"We've dodged a bullet there, eh? Thanks, Dax! Put it there, new
Then there was trouble.
Lenny gave Diesel what he thought was a
playful pat on the back. In fact, he knocked Diesel so hard that his
caterpillars came loose and got tangled up in the wagon's wheel axles. Before
Diesel knew what was happening, he was being dragged down the hill right behind
But Lenny was unaware of anything but
the sound of his head bashing against a nearby skip.
Diesel freaked out and dug his pig
trough hard into the ground. He braked with all his might, but the sparks he
made only set the tower of dynamite ablaze!
Diesel saw the unfinished toy factory
up ahead. He tried to pull away, but wound up steering the wild wagon towards
the railway lines instead.
"Grease and oil!" cried
Diesel didn't stop. He hopped the
rails, rumbled round a corner and out of sight.
"Hold on, Dax!" called Kim
and plodded over to help (Omnipotence does not equal athleticism), but it was
The whole building site froze. Thick
black smoke poured from around the bend.
"Are you all right, Dax?"
"I think so?" Diesel coughed
"NO, OF COURSE I'M NOT F***ING ALL
RIGHT, YOUR TURGID TONKA TOYS! I'M A BLOODY WRECK! PUT ME BACK TOGETHER THIS
Don Juan brought chunks of Diesel back
to the depot, where the fitters spent several days trying to put all his pieces
in the right place. Once he was repaired, the entire Barrow Demolition Crew
held a huge party in his name to celebrate the completion of the toy factory.
Miss Ginny was pleased. Diesel was
"Bang on, Dax!" she said.
"You're a real chip off the old block!"
"Oh, shut up!" snapped
"It's a medal of honour for you,
my boy," Miss Ginny went on. "The Crew can't sell toys without a toy
factory and we wouldn't still have one without your bravery!"
"You mean, I saved your stupid
"I wouldn't have our
overeager-but-good-hearted rookie be any other way," Miss Ginny grinned.
"We're a cracking pack!" said
Kim, joining the Van Clan in an impromptu dance number.
"And all the better for Dax's
being here," said Rossellini, making goo-goo eyes at a flexing Don Juan.
"Welcome to the Crew, Dax!"
cheered Carter, still caked in mud and who knows what else.
Diesel was so horrified he couldn't
think of anything to say, so he just revved his engine and smacked himself in
the face with his trough.
"And now," said Miss Ginny,
"to complete the celebrations, our very own Derek will deliver the
inaugural load of toys to the toy factory!"
"Will I?" said Derek, from
the back of the crowd. "No-one told me that. That'll be fun!"
"Wait a moment," said Miss
Ginny, "if our Derek is here, then who's out there taking the toys
Everyone poked their heads outside.
Away in the distance was a huge smouldering crater where both the toy factory
and its toys once stood.
As Miss Ginny screamed blue murder, and
the Demolition Crew began arguing over whose cheap toys might have started the
blaze, Diesel slipped out of the depot and snuck back towards the Other
Railway, feeling very happy.
"I did say that having two Dereks
would get confusing," he chuckled. "Yes...Welcome to the Other
Railway, Miss Ginny."