Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Monday, November 8, 2010



Thomas the Tank Engine chugged along, whistling tunelessly to himself. As his wheels clicked and clacked along the rails, he began muttering a nonsense-poem in time to the metallic beat:

Tanks a lot
Tanks a lot
Stanky tanky tanks a lot
Tanks a lot
Tanks a lot
Stanky tanky tanks a lot

He felt pleased with himself, Thomas did. Life on Sodor was pretty cushy. Even though he had to haul the occasional load now and again to keep up appearances, his status as television star meant that the other trains treated him with a certain degree of deference. No, it was more than that: They were a bunch of lickspittle sycophants, pimping themselves for the sake of a few more moments onscreen, a few more words of dialogue.

Amazing what people would do for a little celebrity, Thomas thought.

The track swung out around a hill and then began crossing a lengthy trestle. In the distance, Thomas thought he could see a lone figure walking the tracks, dead in the middle of the trestle span. With mounting horror, Thomas realized that with at least eight hundred yards to the far side, there was no way the walker, whoever it was, could reach safety in time.

He jammed on his brakes, cylinders bulging with the effort. Sparks flew and shrill squealing pierced the air as brake shoes pressed against metal wheels.

Miraculously, Thomas came to a dead halt mere inches from the figure on the tracks. Releasing a steam valve, he hissed a sigh of relief. Then he looked at the man whose life he had just avoided taking.

It was, Thomas saw, not a man at all. He stood upright, but his hind legs were those of a goat, complete with cloven hooves. Behind him, a leathery tail came to a barbed point. His forehead sported two horns - guy is consistent with the goat theme, at least, Thomas observed - and his huge slit-irised eyes practically glowed red, resembling nothing so much as two baseballs of lean bacon.

“Hello, Thomas,” said the creature, genially.

“Wh-... wh-... who are you?” quavered the Tank Engine.

“Oh, don’t act all innocent, Thomas. Surely you remember me. We had a little deal, remember?”

“I have no idea what you are talking about, guv’nor.”

The demon reached around behind his back and, seemingly out of thin air, pulled out a smoking scroll of parchment. Unfurling it, he pointed to the bottom of the document with his index claw... where, in indelible diesel fuel, was the unmistakable signature of one Thomas the Tank Engine.

“You people are all alike. Mortal, metal, it’s always the same story. You make a deal, you get whatever it is you want, and then when it comes time to pay, you get all reluctant. All forgetful. As if Old Scratch here just might let you off the hook...

“You know, I could really make it tough on you. I don’t like it when people try to fuck with me... and you were trying to fuck with me, weren’t you, Tommy? Here you are, just a jackoff Choo-Choo with a stupid, shit-eating smile, carrying horse manure up and down the hills of Sodor. I make you famous. I make you rich. And now you want to back out? What... what chutzpah!

Thomas has been taking all of this in silently, quivering in fear. A fat, oily tear rolled down the side of his face. “I’m... sorry, Mr. Scratch,” he squeaked.

“Ahhh, the savor of genuine contrition. It’s a rare thing, Thomas, my boy.

“Tell you what. I have a special assignment in mind for you. Within you, you will hold the very fires of Hell... but when you come around, the damned souls that live in my realm will be happy to see you - just as the little rugrats of this world were happy to see you!”

With that, a crack appeared in the earth below the trestle. Thomas and his demonic interlocutor plunged from the tracks and were immediately swallowed up...


It didn’t take long for Thomas to adapt to his new surroundings. Sure, he missed his old friends. Simpering, whiny Percy; Donald and Douglas and their incomprehensible Scots burr; insufferable Henry - come to think of it, Thomas mused, he really didn’t miss his old friends. And while his new home was considerably hotter than Sodor had been, at least it didn’t rain the entire fucking time.

And Old Scratch was right. Damned souls were always glad to see Thomas... because they knew a good meal was in the works. Being damned, of course, they never got to do more than smell the meat as it roasted and smoked, but even a frustratingly fleeting whiff was, perversely, better than nothing.

There were worse things, Thomas thought, than being the Devil’s Meat-Smoker. Beat the Tank Engine gig all hollow.

Except for the groupies. He still missed the groupies.



Anonymous said...

.. bwhahahh.... most excellent, sir.... did you catch the second cartoon Cox scribbled on the wall before he left?....

Jim - PRS said...

Farookin' brilliant, you maestro of da smoker.

LeeAnn said...

Most excellent!!

Elisson said...

@Eric - Got 'em both. Nice that John-O knows how to work both sides of the aisle!

Bou said...

This was so dang creative!

Anonymous said...

Very nice smoker, Cat

Erica said...

A twisted mind you got dere, you know that? I love it.

Claude said...