It was a beautiful day on the Island of Sodor. But Rusty was
unhappy. He had been in the shed for over a year now.
“Why aren’t being given any work?” he asked.
“I’m a good, hard working diesel and a pal for life, apparently. I want to be out there helping engines, not stuck
here in the shed.”
“Shut your hole,” said Sir Handel. “None of us have been working lately.
At least you got to appear in series 7, unlike some engines I could mention. Am I right, Duke?”
said Duke. “Thank your lucky stars you get merchandised. You can’t even get die cast models of us any more.”
said Rusty. “Well, I’ve had enough. I’m going out.”
“No!” exclaimed Skarloey. “They
said we had to stay in here and await further instructions!”
“Maybe, but if they don’t want us going
out then I want to know why.” Rusty pushed through the shed doors and out into the open.
“This is terrible!”
said Skarloey. “He’ll be in big trouble, right, Bertrum?” There was no response. “Bertrum?”
“I think he’s dead,” said Rheneas.
Rusty chugged down the line. He came
to a curve. He knew he wasn’t supposed to go around the curve, but he decided to do it anyway. Suddenly…
my buffers!” he exclaimed. “I’ve reached the end of the world! I’m in a television studio run by giants!
I must tell the others about this!” He reversed.
But unseen, someone sneaked up behind him. He felt something
hit him hard on the top of his bonnet, and everything went dark.
The next morning, he woke up in a place he had never
seen before. Engines he had never seen before were in the sidings. There were various sheds and huts dotted around, with strange
architecture. Lines ran between the sheds.
“Where am I?” wondered Rusty.
“AT THE WORKS,”
boomed a voice from somewhere.
“What do you want?”
side are you on? Are you with HiT?”
“THAT WOULD BE TELLING. WE WANT INFORMATION. INFORMATION. INFORMATION.”
won’t get it. For one thing, you’re not specific enough.”
“BY HOOK OR BY CROOK WE WILL.”
“THE NEW NUMBER ONE.”
“Who is number one?”
“YOU ARE NUMBER
“No I’m not, I’m number five.”
“OH. RIGHT. SORRY. YOU ARE NUMBER FIVE.”
“THIS IS THE POINT WHERE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO SAY THAT YOU’RE NOT A NUMBER, YOU’RE
A FREE ENGINE.”
“YES. THEN I LAUGH.”
“But I am a number.
It says so on my cab. And ‘Rusty’ is painted on my sides right there.”
“YOU’RE NOT MAKING
THIS ANY EASIER, YOU KNOW.”
Just then, Stepney rolled up. “Rusty!” he exclaimed. “You’re
“Stepney!” said Rusty. “What is this place?”
“This is... The Works,”
said Stepney with a shiver.
“What is it?”
“It’s a terrible place. This is where they
put engines who… know too much. Who criticise.”
“I thought they got scrapped.”
laughed hollowly. “I wish! No, sometimes it happens that HiT may have a future use for a troublesome engine, so they
keep us here.” Boco and Derek raced by, giggling insanely. “It’s horrible,” said Stepney, shuddering.
“What they did to Daisy before they released her… No engine should have to go through that.”
said Duck, puffing up. “As a Great Western engine, I didn’t expect to see you here, Rusty.”
I didn’t expect to be here, frankly,” said Rusty.
“As a Great Western engine, I’m quite pleased
to see you. You always know what to do. I, as a Great Western engine, am nonplussed.”
Oliver rolled by, monotonously
chanting, “Resource… And… Sagacity… Resource… And… Sagacity…”
watched him pitifully. “Poor engine,” he said. “He didn’t respond well to the treatment. It sent him
quite mad. I, as a Great Western Engine, was safe. I, as a Great Western engine, will now go to that siding.” He left.
that what’s going to happen to me?” asked Rusty in fear. "I'll go nuts?"
“It depends,” said
Stepney. “They’ll probably try to reduce your personality. Whatever it takes to get what they want. I wouldn’t
bother trying to escape. Believe me, I’ve tried every option. There’s no way out.”
was all that about information and numbers?”
“Well, Number One is in charge, but nobody ever sees him.
He lives in that big shed at the centre of the Works.”
“So, that’s where I’ll go,” said
Rusty. He trundled off. As he approached the big shed, he was startled by a voice.
“Hello, Mr Rusty.”
jumped. It was Toad. “Oh, hello, Toad,” he said.
“Mr Rusty, say hello to Mr Rails and Mr Sleepers
and Mr Buffers and Mr Sky and Mr Wall and-”
Rusty hurried off. He bumped into the doors of the shed. A voice
“WHO ARE YOU?”
“I’m Rusty. I want to see Number One.”
SEES NUMBER ONE. NOT NOBODY, NOT NOHOW.”
“Oh yeah, how are you going to stop me?” He crashed through
Inside the shed, all was dark. Rusty could see the vague outline of an engine
in the dark.
“Are you Number One?” he asked.
“Well, I’m here
to challenge you.”
“YOU? A LITTLE DIESEL?”
“Why don’t you show yourself?”
WELL. I HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE… FROM YOU.” There was a loud thump and the shed was filled with light.
“That’s right,” said Thomas. “Who else did you think was going to be Number One?”
did you make your voice go like that?”
“I found this oversized blue-and-white striped megaphone in box
“Is this your doing?”
“It was my idea, but HiT built it. You see, I’m
the star of this show, and I can’t have engines running around willy-nilly, becoming more popular than me. I don’t
want that and the bosses don’t want that. So we bring them here and, shall I say, cut them down to size.”
have I been brought here? Is it because I saw the television studio full of giants?”
“No, that was just
an excuse. I’ll let you in on a secret. You’re going to be back in the television series. You’re even getting
a part in the upcoming featurelength special. The only problem there is that you’re a popular character, and your return
could be, shall we say, tricky. So before you return, you’ll need to undergo some… changes.”
engine appeared next to Rusty.
“This is Lady,” said Thomas with a smirk. “She will be in charge of
Rusty felt another thump on his bonnet, and blacked out…
back at the sheds.
“Rusty! You’re back!” said Peter Sam.
“Hold on,” said Duncan.
“But you’re a girl!”
“I am a girl,” said Rusty monotonously.
“But you used
to be a boy!” exclaimed Duncan.
“I’ve always been a girl. I am sorry if this was not clear in the
past, but I am a girl. As it was in the beginning, is now and shall be forevermore.”
funny going on here,” said Sir Handel.
Unknown to him, hostile eyes were watching. “Sir Handel is showing
suspicion,” said Thomas. “Maybe he’ll need a few changes before his reappearance in Series 10.”
take care of it,” said Lady.