FanFic:Sodor Academy Part Four: December
Previous Part: Part Three
Next Part: Part Five
November passed by in a haze of smoke, and soon it was December.
"Snow's late this year," muttered James.
"That's lucky," replied Toby. "The snows can get really deep through the winter."
The students were progressing well on their locomotives; Thomas had started his E2's boiler. The only one who was behind was Diesel, who thanks to Thomas had to rewire his entire undercarriage.
It was also holiday time. Sodor Academy was famous for its elaborate decorations, and all of the students pitched in. Thomas enjoyed, after a hard day's work, looking at all the new decorations.
The front plaza was the most elaborate of all; the surrounding buildings would be bedecked with lights, framing an enormous Christmas tree covered with tinsel and elegant ornaments. Each of the students would receive their own present underneath.
There was only about a week left until Christmas. Thomas was surprised to open the mail and see a box of his mother's homemade gingerbread cookies. They had always been a holiday highlight for Thomas. He shared some with all of the other students.
"Delicious," said Gordon.
"Superb!" added Edward.
"Simply magnificent!" finished Duck.
Thomas suddenly noticed that Percy was nowhere to be seen. Searching the dormitories, he found Percy on his bed, sadly staring out the window.
"What's the matter, Percy?"
"Well . . . I, just, your cookies were great. Spectacular. You must really have a loving family that really cares a lot about you."
"I don't have a family. My mom died when I was a baby, and my dad lost me on a train when I was five or six. No one knew where he was, so they put me in an orphanage. But why didn't my dad find me? Did he not care about me? Was he glad I was gone?"
Percy started sobbing. Thomas didn't know what to say. He put a reassuring hand on Percy's shoulder, but Percy shrugged it off. Thomas left the room. I wish there was something I could do for Percy, he thought.
The next morning SIr Topham Hatt himself came to see Thomas.
"Thomas, there's an emergency. The shipment for the front plaza's in the station yard, but everyone's too busy to fetch it. I've heard good reports on your driving from Victor, and I'd like you to go and fetch it with one of the workshop engines. Just drop it off in the workshop yard, and Victor will take it from there. Can you do that?"
Thomas was so proud he thought he would burst. "Yes sir, of course sir!" He hurried off to fetch an engine.
Thomas had just arrived at the station house. He was waiting for the trucks to be coupled up, and went around back to the brake van to check the brakes. It was short trip, but important, and wouldn't let anything go wrong. He was climbing into the van when he saw a familiar face walking down the street.
The golden-haired girl turned her head, and seeing Thomas, walked over to him.
"What are you doing?"
"I've got the Christmas shipment."
"Wow. Isn't that a bit much for a first year student?"
"Not for me! I won't let anything go wrong. Here, come inside."
The two were standing in the brake van. Thomas was showing her everything, but he got the sense Polly already knew what he was telling her. He was heading over to the other side when he tripped. Reaching out blindly for support, he grabbed the brake lever and used it to stop his fall. There was a loud screech.
Polly looked alarmed. "I hope we're coupled to the engine."
The trucks started to roll backwards, onto the main line.
Polly and Thomas hung on for dear life as the runaway sped down the main line. Polly was screaming. Keeping himself from doing the same thing, he grabbed the radio and set it to Victor's frequency.
"Thomas, my friend, what's going on?"
"Loose - brake lev-er," Thomas grunted, "runaway- main line, help!"
Victor's line went silent for a few seconds, then came back to life.
"I've called the signalman for this section. He'll divert you onto an old track. It should stop you in a bit."
"Why don't we just use the brake lever?" called Polly from the back of the van.
"Oh. Right." Thomas had completely forgotten about it.
Screeching loudly, the train rattled on for several more miles before clattering to a halt in an abandoned yard.
"Are you all right? Good. I'll send an engine as fast as I can, but it could take a while."
"Thanks, Victor, you're a lifesaver. Literally!"
"Nothing to it. See you soon!"
Thomas and Polly disembarked from the brake van. Everything seemed in order, and they walked around the yard, waiting for another engine.
The yard was very old. There were some old coal trucks, and a rusting tender. Thomas had just turned away from the train when he heard a loud, rasping cough.
The two teen turned again, and saw a man standing across the line. He had black hair, which hung down his head in straggled locks. His clothes were torn, and it looked like he hadn't taken a bath in years. His left leg was bent into an awkward position, which made Thomas wince just looking at it.
"Funny of the railway men to send kids to find me. And what a way to do it! What's an old hobo to do?"
"We're not with the railway. I'm at the academy, and she stays in the village."
"Oh, the lovebirds took a joyride on some loose trucks."
Polly looked fed up. "Listen, you old crook. We're here by accident. There's an engine on the way right now. We could turn you in as soon as they get here."
The hobo smiled. "Ya got spunk, kid. I like that. I'm Bill Avonside. How do ya do?"
Polly slapped him. Suddenly, Thomas had a revelation.
"Are you related to Percy Avonside?"
The man froze. "Percy? Dear lord, ya know him? How is he?"
"You do know him?"
"I figure I should. He's my son."
It was Christmas Eve at the Academy. Everything was decorated, and there was a generally merry feeling in the air. Christmas dinner had just been eaten, and all of the students were gathered in the plaza, singing Christmas carols. Thomas had asked Victor if Polly could come, and Victor had agreed most heartily.
"That girl showed a lot of sense the other day. Almost made up for you not having any!" he had said jokingly.
At last, it was time for the Tree Presents.
"All right! An all-brass dome! Perfect!" shouted James.
"Just the right size for my tram," said Toby, looking over his new sideplates.
Thomas himself had received a cylinder casing. It was nice, but he had been a little disappointed.
Only Percy did not receive a present. He stood by the side, watching the other students.
"Percy, come get your present!"
"I didn't get one, remember?"
"Yeah, ya did, kid."
Percy wheeled around. "Dad? DAD!" He ran over to him, and they embraced.
"I'm sorry I didn't getcha, son. My leg was hurt, and I was dead broke. I can't tell you how many days I spent wishing I could see you."
Sir Topham Hatt stood up. "I've given Mr. Avonside a job as a workshop helper. He'll stay in the village."
Percy grinned from ear to ear. "It's a Christmas miracle!"
And to top it all off, snow started falling out of the dark winter sky.
Polly and Thomas watched from a distance.
"I'm glad Percy's happy," said Thomas.
"So am I. And a perfect day, too!" Added Polly, looking around. Suddenly, she smiled. "Hey, look. Mistletoe." She laughed as Thomas ducked away. "all right, you can get away for now, but you owe me a kiss."
"I got you a present." Polly handed Thomas a tiny, but well-wrapped box.
Opening it, Thomas discovered a little whistle.
"For your engine," said Polly.
They hurried back towards everyone else and they began singing "SIlent Night". Snow covered the plaza.