Scene 1: the Isle of Sodor. Enter three of the Naughty Trucks.
Truck 1: “When shall we three meet again. In thunder, lightning, or in rain?”
Truck 2: “When the Fat Controller’s done. When the Isle of Sodor again is one.”
Truck 3: “To the engine shed! There to meet with Thomas.”
Scene 2: Maron Station
Fat Controller: Thomas! Bring me Thomas! And bring with him those wenches Annie and Clarabel. I desire to see them all, for I have an honour to bestow.
Fat Controller’s Henchman 1: Of course Sir, right away Sir.
Thomas puffs to Maron Station. The Fat Controller is standing on the platform to greet him, flanked by his two henchmen. Gordon the Blue Engine is stage right, in a siding; a pained expression on his face. Percy the Little Green One is on Platform 2, waiting for the mail.
Fat Controller: Thomas, I bring glad tidings.
Thomas: Fat Controller, O great one, O dear leader of our sceptr’ed Isle of Sodor. How I love thee. Your voice is like the sound of a thousand nightingales singing on the breeze; like the waves that crash on the shore at Brendam Docks. What menial task can your humble servant Thomas perform for you today? Oh please tell me you would like me to shunt some trucks. Please, please, please!
Fat Controller: You will not be shunting trucks today Thomas.
A gasp of horror is heard to come from Annie and Clarabel.
Annie: No, not our Thomas. Surely you will not be sending our beloved Thomas to the Camps? We have heard of such places, where disobedient engines are sent to be put to scrap, along with all of their families. Please tell us that such a fate does not befall our Thomas.
Fat Controller: Don’t be ridiculous Annie and Clarabel. That’s just like you two, such a pair of drama queens. Bloody women. This is why I limit the number of female engines on my island to an approximate ratio of one for every ten males. Thomas is the star of the show. He’s worth too much to me. His merchandising alone earns me a small fortune. Do you know what the Thomas and Friends Take N’ Play Misty Island Playset retails for at Toys R Us these days? Do you? No, of course you don’t. That’s why you have no storylines of your own and have to play second fiddle to this simpleton of a Tank Engine here.
Clarabel: Then what, pray tell, do you have in store for us?
Fat Controller: For you, insolent female, nothing. However, for Thomas I bring the promise of great things. A promotion, in fact.
Thomas: A promotion? O Fat Controller dear Sir, O great one, I am your humble servant. I will do anything you ask of me Sir. Anything.
The Fat Controller raises a chubby yet majestic arm to point towards Gordon.
Fat Controller: Thomas, Gordon is unwell. He has been pushing himself too hard whilst driving the express. He is getting older and older by the day, and-let’s not put too fine a point on it Gordon-more pompous too. I have decided that you, Thomas, should be put in charge of the Express.
Gordon is heard wailing, side of stage.
Fat Controller: Take him away!
The Fat Controller gestures menacingly towards Gordon. The henchmen disappear, Gordon wheezes, and his cries eventually fade to nothing.
Scene 3: the Engine Shed
Thomas is chuffing around in circles on the turntable, extremely overexcited. Annie and Clarabel are side of stage, rolling their eyes. James, Henry and Edward are sitting in the shed, looking unimpressed. A mist suddenly descends, and through the mist the Naughty Trucks approach.
Naughty Truck 1: Good news today Thomas? I haven’t seen you this excited since the time Harold the Helicopter landed at Brendam Docks and whipped up a load of sea spray which hit Gordon right in the funnel.
Thomas: Oh yes Mr Trucky! Looks like I won’t be seeing so much of you now!
Truck 2: Oh really? Why would that be?
Thomas: I’ve been promoted! The Fat Controller says I’M going to be pulling the express from now on, so I won’t have time to talk to you anymore. No more shunting trucks. BYEEEE!
Truck 3: Is that so? The Fat Controller has promoted you, has he? He must think you’re a REALLY USEFUL engine if he’s done that. My, he must think you’re the MOST USEFUL ENGINE in all of Sodor!
James the Red Engine coughs. More eye rolling from Annie and Clarabel.
Truck 1: In fact, I would say he thinks you’re SO useful that you could run the entire Isle of Sodor all by yourself, isn’t that so?
Truck 2: I do believe he was heard to refer to the prices of certain pieces of Thomas and Friends merchandise earlier today, was he not?
Truck 3: Thomas and FRIENDS, that is. These jokers over here are just the friends. They don’t even get a name check.
Truck 3 gestures towards James, Henry and Edward. Edward looks particularly miffed.
Truck 1: Wouldn’t you say that the Friends are unnecessary, Thomas?
Truck 2: They don’t call it “HENRY and Friends, do they?
Truck 3: They don’t call EDWARD the star of the show.
Truck 1: In fact, I’d say Thomas and Friends would run pretty well even if there were no friends at all.
Truck 2: And I’d say the Isle of Sodor would run pretty well even if there was no FAT CONTROLLER at all.
Gasps from the Engines. Cackling from the trucks. The trucks start to circle Thomas threateningly. More mist descends, and starts to cover the other engines.
Truck 3: Do it, Thomas.
Truck 1: You know you want to Thomas.
Scene 4: Maron Station. Thomas is coupled and ready to pull the express. Annie and Clarabel have been refurbished and are checking out their reflections in the station office windows.
Annie: The Express! Who’d have thought it?
Clarabel: We’re the envy of Sodor now!
Annie: Clarabel, what did you think of what the trucks said? I was thinking about it last night, and we have been around longer than most of the others, you know.
Clarabel: What do you mean?
Annie: Well, there’s all these fancy new engines now, like Rosie and Hiro and Mavis and Alfie the Excavator, and Dick and Dom or whatever those two identical things with the snowploughs are, and you know what Clarabel, we were here first. Just us, and Thomas, and yet we never get any credit. Did you hear what the Fat Controller called us yesterday?
Clarabel: Insolent female, wasn’t it?
Annie: Yes, and yet we’ve been here since 1961, when time froze on the Isle of Sodor before Dr Beeching had a chance to get in here and close down all the branch lines. Where would the Fat Controller be without us?
Annie (clears throat, puts on dramatic voice): The raven himself is hoarse, that croaks the final entrance of the Fat Controller into Maron Station.
Clarabel: Come you naughty trucks, unsex me here! And let me be filled with direst cruelty! Fill me with the spirit of Dr Beeching himself!
Annie: And though I be but a weak and feeble carriage, I have the heart and stomach of a mighty engine!
The Fat Controller enters, with his henchmen. Just at that moment, Thomas lets out a mighty wheesh. Steam flies up into the air, and along with it some coal from Thomas’ funnel, which plops down onto the Fat Controller’s head, knocks his top hat off, and sends him spinning off the platform and onto the track.
Henchmen: Quick! Get him!
Annie and Clarabel (pushing forward): We are the Express! We are the Express! Oh Thomas, we can’t be late!
Thomas: I can’t be late, I can’t be late, I don’t want to share Gordon’s fate!
They surge forward, just as the henchmen jump onto the track to help the Fat Controller up. All three are run down, and crushed.
Thomas: I can’t be late, I can’t be late, I don’t want to share Gordon’s fate!
Annie and Clarabel: That’s what you get for calling us an insolent female.
Thomas puffs away.
Scene 5: Brendam Docks. Thomas is pacing backwards and forwards on the track. Annie and Clarabel are to the side, looking melancholy. Harold the Helicopter is on the landing pad.
Harold: I’m sorry Thomas, I can’t help you this time. I know you’ve just basically committed High Treason and-dare I say it, regicide-the Fat Controller, God rest his soul, was like a King to us (he looks away into the horizon and sighs wistfully), but you see, you’re a train, and I’m a helicopter. I’m, well, I’m smaller than you. I’m just not strong enough to take you AND the ladies here away to Rio. I know that’s where they always go when they bump someone off on Eastenders, but this isn’t Eastenders, this is Thomas and Friends, and you don’t have any friends. They all chuffed off after that conversation in engine shed the other day, and to be honest I don’t blame them. It’s all about you, Thomas, all the time. Thomas this, Thomas that. I don’t blame them for being sick of it.
Thomas: What are we going to do now, without the Fat Controller?
Harold: You tell me. Didn’t you have some sort of plan to take over the Isle of Sodor or something and liberate it from the dictatorship of the Fat Controller?
Thomas: Well, we didn’t really have time to come up with a plan. I just thought I’d pull the Express, and that would be it.
Annie: Have you considered maybe starting a democracy? I know it was all a bit bloody, what with that terrible accident with the Fat Controller and all (dabs eyes dramatically with a tissue) but we could see this as an opportunity, you know.
Thomas: An opportunity for what?
Clarabel: Well, perhaps we could think about bringing Sodor into the twentieth century. Oops, I mean twenty-first.
Thomas (gasps): You mean, with diesel engines?
Annie: Well…maybe. Look, I don’t mean to be rude Thomas, but there’s probably a place for you on a heritage railway somewhere, staffed by volunteers, where you can just have a nice, happy retirement, and they can replace you with a TGV or something.
Harold (nods approval): Well, I have to say I’m game. What do you think Cranky?
Cranky the Crane turns his crane to face down to the conversation below: Is there a place for me in this heritage place? Heavy industry’s all moved to China now. Not much coming in at Brendam anymore.
Clarabel: I say we turn the whole of Sodor into a museum!
Annie: A democratic museum!
Thomas: A museum to the ways things were, before diesel engines and feminism, and when everyone wore hats on Sundays!
Clarabel: Just remember one thing though.
Thomas: What’s that?
Annie: We were here first.
Thomas: Oh yes, it’s THOMAS and Friends, not the Fat Controller and Friends. Can I be in charge of the museum?
Suddenly, silently, a diesel engine pulls up at the dockside. Thomas, Annie, Clarabel, Harold and Cranky all turn to look.
Thomas: And who are you?
Diesel engine: I’m Chuggington. And it’s time for you lot to retire.