Tales From The Other Railway

Diesel, Steamie and the Fuel

Steamie makes yet another return to the Other Railway... and strikes up a friendship with Diesel?!

The engines on the Other Railway hate feeling responsible, reliable and Really Useful. They work hard to avoid their jobs all the time. They like causing Confusion and Delay and delight in causing mischief, and their mischief causes trouble, as poor BoZo found out when Diesel and Spamcan replaced his oil with sticky toffee pudding for a laugh.

 

"BoZo is buggered and has been sent for repairs," said the Thin Git that evening. "The nice folk at the pudding plant say he won't be de-stickified for weeks and there are no other engines available, so Steamie will help until BoZo returns."

 

"BUT SIR...!" protested the engines. They weren't happy at all. The engines didn't like Steamie; he was always being psychotic and always scheming to melt them down into playground swings or - even worse - model train sets!

 

"Now, don't you start moaning now!" snarled the Thin Git. "It's your own fault for screwing that big green pillock up in the first place"

 

"You promised!" snapped Diesel. "You promised you wouldn't let that sinister Steamie back on this line for at least three years!"

 

"You're right," said the Thin Git, "and I promised you that three years and two hours ago. Now shut up, put up and GO TO BED!"

 

"I hope BoZo's mended soon," said Derek, as the Thin Git stormed away. "That sticky toffee pudding looked lovely and I'm feeling peckish."

 

"Steamie's more annoying than three billion BoZos put together!" agreed Diesel, "and that's saying something!"

 

"They're both as bad as each other if you ask me!" huffed Old Stuck-Up. "Full-blown or hybrid, steamies are no-one's friends!"

 

"No-one is your friend," muttered Diesel and settled into an uneasy sleep.

 

 

The next day Steamie was already working in the Yard when Diesel arrived. His fluorescent green paint blinded six workmen and a pack of stray cats as he puffed and chuffed and clickety-clacked along the track with his trucks.

 

"Hello, my good friend, Diesel!" whistled Steamie. "You look splendiferous today!"

 

"Yes," said Diesel - he was in no mood for Steamie's false sincerities - "because you know everything about fashion, don't you, Mr Lime Green Prozac Machine? Glow-in-the-dark gunge is the only colour for a stinky steamie like you! That way, we can at least see you coming!"

 

"Oh, I know. I don't like my green paint either," said Steamie. "I've always liked black, personally, but the workmen won't let me change. I don't think I'd want to be any other colour."

 

Diesel was stunned.

 

"Well, uh, well, anyway!" he huffed importantly. "Black is the only colour for a Really Windswept and Interesting Engine - everybody knows that!"

 

Steamie said no more. He just smiled at the uneasy shunter, and set back to work.

 

Each day, Diesel brings tankers full of diesel fuel from the Yard to the greedy gas company near the Big Fat Station, so they can create shortages at all the petrol stations and jack up their prices. Steamie was resting when Diesel trundled along with the tankers.

 

"Careful, Diesel," warned Steamie. "Watch out for those silly trucks. I hear they can be quite troublesome."

 

"Noooo! Really!?" snapped Diesel, as he pushed the tankers along the line beside him. "Back off, Steamie! This job is mine, so don't try anythi-"

 

He got no further. Before Diesel could finish his insults, he suddenly surged forward.

 

"GO ON! GO ON!" giggled the trucks. "This'll teach you to leave us in the sewage plant sidings all night! ON! ON! ON!"

 

"HELP!" cried Diesel, "I'M BEING HI-JACKED! GET ME OUT!"

 

As the first of the tankers was about to pass him, Steamie hopped onto Diesel's line and put every ounce of steam he had against the runaway train. With a rumble and a screech, the cavalcade of tankers slowed down and ground to a halt, just before the brick wall at the end of the siding.

 

Diesel looked queasy. Then, as the dust settled, he looked at Steamie and began to laugh. Steamie's garish green paint was black from smokebox to bunker.

 

"Ha, ha, ha!" cackled Diesel. "I'm alive! I'm still alive, and you, Steamie, you wonderful life-saver - maybe it's all the oil rushing to my head, but you don't look Really Useless now! You look Really F***ing Cool!"

 

"I am not cool!" chuckled Steamie, bashfully. "You're saying that as a joke! Now stop your delirious giggling and let's get out of here."

 

Poor Steamie was filthy, but he didn't mind. In fact, he wanted to keep his new look, but the workmen wouldn't let him.

 

"You're not fit to be seen," they said. "Diesel here's ugly enough as it is."

 

It took so long to clean Steamie that he wasn't ready in time for his next train. Diesel had to arrange Spamcan's trucks of rotting fish heads for him, but he didn't mind that. In fact, he felt strangely cheerful about the whole thing.

 

"Bloody Steamie," he chuckled as he growled home, reeking of dead haddock. He was most impressed.

 

Diesel was happy in the shed that night. Spamcan thought it a real buzzkill (having already had his good cheer shoved down his throat earlier on), but the others were concerned about Diesel for thinking that Steamie had saved his life on purpose.

 

"Oo'd 'ave thought it?" said Arry. "No, really, oo'd 'ave thought it? You lot are all fick as planks!"

 

"Fancy," remarked Bowler, "a Really Useless steam engine like Steamie becoming a credit to the Thin Git's Railway? Or any engine for that matter!"

 

"You wait, Bowler," replied Diesel thoughtfully. "One day you'll laugh on the other side of your fenders when it happens to you. Stranger things have, I suppose."

 

"Pooh!" snorted Stuck-Up. "I wouldn't bet anything on that - and I have a lot of things to bet on! Why, just this year, I lost two drivers and a fitter through underground games of Uno behind the sheds! Stupid, cheating station guard!"

 

 

The friendship blossomed as time went on. Diesel thought Steamie had saved his life on deliberately, and the other engines were baffled with Diesel for thinking so. I know my head is hurting just thinking about it.

 

A few days later, Diesel was at the fuelling depot when Steamie brought fresh tankers of super-concentrated Glaswegian oil for Arry and Bert. The trucks were heavy and Steamie was tired.

 

"Have a drink, Steamie" said Diesel, as the tank engine was uncoupled from his load. "Then you'll feel better."

 

Of course, there are no water-towers or coal bunkers on the Other Railway. The only steamie-approved supplies in the whole Yard were a single sprinkler that had been nicked from the signalman's garden. The sprinkler stood at the end of the siding round the back of the depot, where all the faulty fuel barrels were kept. The Yard Manager had a saying: "If I can't see it, it's not illegal!"

 

As Diesel tried to enjoy his Esso Espresso, he heard a cracking sound. Diesel peered around the other side of the depot and, to his horror, found Steamie puffing towards the faulty barrels at an alarming rate!

 

"Ooooer!" wailed Steamie. "Help!"

 

Diesel had no idea what came over him in that moment. Maybe it was the last spark of decency in his oil-black soul being rekindled; perhaps it was just the sugar rush from the Esso Espresso. Either way, before he knew what he was doing he found himself careering across the yard right on Steamie's tail. Catching up and aiming carefully, Diesel rammed the tank engine at full speed and toppled him off the rails, out of harm's way.

 

"Ooooer!" wailed Diesel. "Now I can't stop! Help!"

 

The buffers broke and Diesel ran into the faulty barrels with a clatter. Fuel flew everywhere, and when the dust had settled Diesel was half-drowning in a thick puddle of lighter fluid.

 

Though not for very long.

 

KABOOOOOOM!

 

Diesel the Diesel Engine was disassembled.

 

D'oh!

 

The workmen had tried to make Diesel better, but it was no-use. They couldn't put a three-piece jigsaw back together, never mind a whopping great diesel shunter.

 

"Derek must take you to the works as well," groaned the Thin Git, over the wheezing chunk of Diesel that was still in one piece. "First BoZo, now you. I swear you lot'll do anything to get out of work!"

 

Diesel felt very miserable, though not half as much as when Derek caught fire as they left the Yard.

 

Then the Thin Git spoke to Steamie.

 

"I'll need you to help Arry and Bert while Diesel and BoZo are away," he said. "Personally, I thought you'd fall flat on your arse first day back, but Diesel spoke very highly of you before he was carted off in those bin bags. So, yeah, you're Head of the Yard now. Yippee or whatever."

 

Steamie was delighted.

 

Are you?


TO BE CONTINUED...

Tales From The Other Railway - Series 6 / Story 6
Based on Thomas, Percy & The Coal - Written by Christopher Awdry