Off the Dimensional Track: Chapter 1 by PredaPrime
Chapter 1: Down the Rabbit Tunnel
One early summer morning on the Island of Sodor at Tidmouth Sheds, everyone's favorite blue tank engine was still asleep as the morning sun shone down on the engines. Thomas was still in dreamland as the sunlight shone down on his blue paint which he was so proud of.
"Zzzzz… Why of course Gordon… I'd LOVE to take the Express for you. Zzzz… Yes Sir Topham Hatt… I'll be able to receive my Engine of the Year award this evening… Zzzz… Lady, you can sleep with me in my shed anytime… Zzzzz…"
"Thomas!" Said Percy to his best friend, trying to wake him up. But to Thomas, it was Lady saying his name in his dream as they sailed down the river on a barge.
"Thomas!" Percy said again with no luck. He was worried that the Fat Controller might see him dozing during this morning's briefing. Percy inhaled…
"THOMAS!" Percy shouted, almost waking the whole yard.
"WAH!" Thomas woke with a start looking around in confusion. "Percy! You ruined my dream again!"
"Lemme guess… You were about to kiss Lady in front of the full moon overlooking Castle Loch?" The green engine said, rolling his eyes.
Thomas was surprised. "H-How'd you guess?"
"You talk in your sleep." Percy told him bluntly.
"And we all hear it." Said a rather grumpy Gordon. "By the way, you'll never take my express. It's not a job for a silly little tank engine like you."
"And that Engine of the Year award belongs to the most splendid engine on the Island." Said James, boastful as ever.
Thomas grumbled as Sir Topham Hatt AKA The Fat Controller came out of his car and stood on a box to make the morning announcements.
"Henry, you'll be taking the heavy goods from Vicarstown Yard to the Docks. Gordon, you'll be pulling the Express. James, you'll be pulling coaches on Duck's branch line. Edward, you'll be taking the Vicar and Trevor to the farm festival. Toby, you'll be taking a film crew around the castles of Sodor. Emily, you'll be taking the children to the fair. Percy, you'll be taking a special mail train. And Thomas…"
"Ooh… I hope he gives me a special special!" Thomas thought excitedly. Like… Picking up the Queen! Or… Visiting the Reverend! Or… doing a job with Lady! Or…"
"You'll be shunting in the coal yards." Said the Fat Controller.
Thomas just looked befuzzled. "But sir…. Coal trucks? Isn't there a film crew or children I can help out?"
The Fat Controller just gave him one of his famous disappointed looks. "Really useful engines don't argue." He told Thomas. The Blue Tank Engine sighed as he started to move out towards the coaling depot.
"Such a shame you have to pull coal trucks. A real pity. Oh well, at least I won't get dirty pulling filthy coal trucks." Sniggered James as he passed him.
"And at least I'll be useful, pulling the Express with pride." Boasted Gordon as he went up the track to the big station.
"Ignore those two." Soothed Edward kindly.
"I'd rather deal with Diesel 10 than those two." Muttered Thomas angrily before storming off.
Toby sighed. "I really wish Gordon and James would act their age and not their wheel size."
"I know." Agreed Percy, who was worried about his best friend being grumpy all day.
Thomas soon arrived at the coaling depot, still grumpy. And it was about to get worse.
"Hello Thomas…" Said a familiar oily voice.
"Ugh… Hello Diesel." The tank engine grumbled. "What do you want?"
"Oh nothing." Diesel said innocently. "Just decided to show you my-erm I mean your line of trucks."
Thomas looked to see a sea of coal trucks, singing and giggling. "So… Aren't you going to take some? It would make the job go twice as quick.
"Oh no, I can't." Diesel lied. "Sir Topham Hatt told me to instruct you on what to do and then I had to go and… See Miss Jenny about a few things."
"Erm… Construction details for the new… Diesel Shed! Yes! That's it! How could I forget!"
Diesel chuckled nervously as Thomas looked suspiciously at him. He didn't trust Diesel as far as he could shunt him.
"Oh for the love of Awdry… Fine. I'll do it." Said Thomas as he angrily backed down onto a line of trucks and set off.
"Heh heh heh…" Diesel sniggered as he reversed to hide in a siding. "That went as smooth as steel!" But while he was congratulating himself, he didn't hear tinkling noises and the whistle of an engine near some buffers.
"Score one for the Diesels!" He chuckled as he set off, still unaware that someone was following him.
A few hours later, Thomas was still delivering coal trucks. He was grumbling all throughout the job, no thanks in part to the silly trucks wanting to play their tricks on him.
"Bother these trucks! Bother that sneaky Diesel and bother those big engines for getting better jobs than I! It's not fair! It's not fair at all!" He shouted as he went down the line with his train.
Finally Thomas went into the yard to pick up the last train of trucks in the yard. He backed down hard into them before setting off for his last destination. He soon came to a signal box with a red signal. The signal came out and spoke to Thomas.
"Bad news I'm afraid. This part of the main line is closed."
"Bother!" Weeshed Thomas. "Now I'll be late home! Is there another way?"
The Signalman paused for a moment.
"Yes there is but-"
Thomas butted in. "OK! Thank you!" He said before steaming off without a second thought before heading down the line.
"Wait!" Called the signalman. "That line hasn't been used in years! It's not safe!"
But Thomas was too far away to hear him, he kept chuffing on ahead with his train.
Meanwhile at Tidmouth sheds, Percy, Toby and Edward were all waiting for Thomas.
"Where is he?" Percy said with some worry in his voice. "He should have been here a half an hour ago… It's not like him to be late."
"I know." Replied Edward. "I was talking to Annie and Clarabel earlier on and they'd seen no hide or hair of him. I even asked Stanley if he'd seen him on his rounds with them. But he hasn't seen him since this morning as he was on his way to the coal depot."
"I'm sure he's on his way home the long way. You know, past the windmill. You know how much he loves seeing the windmill to get him out him out of a bad mood." Suggested Toby.
"Ha! I'm glad he's not here to annoy me about not getting a special special!" Gloated Gordon as he reversed back into the shed.
"Oh be quiet Gordon…" Said Edward. "Just because you think Thomas is a silly little engine, doesn't mean he works as hard as you."
"Yeah! And he can do more specials than two of your put together!" Percy told Gordon, sticking up for his best friend.
"Pah!" Weeshed Gordon. "I'm an important express engine! Not someone who's still sulking around in the coal yards!"
But Thomas wasn't in the coal yards at all...
"Ooh… It's getting a tad spooky around here…" Thomas said to himself as he went down the abandoned line, filled with thick overgrown tree roots weaved into the sleepers of the tracks, mist forming around the edges of the woods and the wind rustling the leaves. Thomas went on down the track till he came to a small tunnel.
"That's funny… Didn't expect a tunnel here." Thomas said to himself. He shone his lamp iron into it.
"Hm… Doesn't look all that safe… I'd best go in first and leave the trucks in a siding."
So that's what Thomas did, much to the trucks dismay.
"Hey! Don't leave us here!" Said one. "Yeah! I don't want to be monster food!" Said another.
"Don't worry." Thomas reassured them. "I'll be back for you."
Thomas began to slowly go into the tunnel with only his lamp iron lighting the way.
"So far… So good…"
Suddenly, the tunnel filled with bright light, blinding Thomas!
"GAH! I CAN'T SEE!" He shouted as he came to the end of the tunnel and…
To be continued…