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Zack Saves the Day

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The London and North Eastern Railway was one of the Big Four companies, formed during the 1923 Grouping Act in Britain. In this form, with engines from the North Eastern Region, and Great Northern Railway, it lasted a mere 25 years.

Several engines on the North Western Railway came from the North Eastern region, like Gordon - a Gresley A1/3, Toby - a Holden J70, and Molly - a Holden D16.

There was a new engine, a Holden rebuild of the Holmes J83. Zack is one such steam engine. He is a small, but powerful mixed-traffic tank engine. Bright blue, with LNER on his side tanks, and a number 15 on his bunker sides.

One morning, he was shunting about the yard. Gordon and James showed their different opinions.

James: He is sort of a blue box on wheels!

Gordon: He is quite small, but he works very hard.

The two engines watched Zack arrange the trucks with interest. Soon, Henry's goods train was ready, and Zack backed down next to them for a rest.

Zack: Good morning!

Gordon: Good morning, new engine.

James: {grunts}

Gordon: That was impressive shunting.

James: Huh! {He puffs away, annoyed.}

Zack: {worried} I hope I didn't offend your friend.

Gordon: Nah, he's a bit grumpy sometimes.

Zack: I'm on trail, you know. If I do well, I might get to stay here.

Gordon: Carry on like that, and you'll be able to take over Norramby shunter for Dennis!

Zack: Oh, dear! I wouldn't want to lose anyone their job!

Gordon: Never mind! He's been complaining he doesn't get any long runs with the shunting.

Zack: Ah! Well, I'll just carry on like that, then!

Zack was soon shunting the trains at Norramby. The engines were glad of a new engine, but they found it hard for him to talk to.

Neville: {puzzled} He doesn't want to talk to us. I don't understand it. I only said "Good morning", and he puffed away without a word.

Molly: {obviously hurt} I can't understand why he ignored me! I only said "Hello"!

Eagle: {raising an eyebrow} He's probably shy, he is new, after all, many strange sights and engines. And of course, you'll find him hard to talk to.

Eagle puffed out of his siding, to find Zack and talk to him. But it seemed, no matter where he was, Zack just puffed away. Eventually, Eagle gave up, and returned to a siding to have a rest. He was feeling rather glum, when Zack backed down next to him.

Zack: Hello! I'm Zack. Nice line you have here, isn't it?

Eagle was speechless!

Eagle: {more amused than upset} Why do you keep coming away from me?

Zack: I wasn't doing it on purpose. I just wanted to finish my work first.

Eagle: And have you... {looks around the yard}

He had to do a double-take, as the yard was completely ordered. Trucks were in their right place, coaches were organized into their rates, and even the special vans train for Marty was ready.

Eagle: Silly question! Well, you've really worked very hard today. I feel I should warn you, you may have upset Molly and Neville.

Zack: Oh! Erm... the D16 and Q1?

Eagle: Yes.

Zack: Sometimes, I just don't notice anyone else when I'm concentrating on my work.

Eagle: Yes, sometimes concentration on your work is the best thing to do. You probably worked at I big yard in the former LNER, I presume.

Zack: Oh, yes - Copley Hill Sheds,

Eagle: Well, there you go then. You probably didn't have the time to retaliate my friends.

Zack: It must be a nice railway here, where everyone knows your name and number.

That night, Neville was staying over night on the main line, and Olivia, Dennis, and Marty were pulling their goods trains. Molly found herself alone with Eagle and Zack, and was surprised to hear Eagle talking to Zack. Molly was very upset. She had tried to be polite earlier, but Zack had seemingly ignored her. Molly decided to pretend to be asleep, and listen in on the conversation further. But her plan failed badly, when she actually fell asleep. Eagle glanced over at the Holden D16, and was surprised to see her asleep so early.

Eagle: Don't worry, I'm sure you'll be able to say hello to her tomorrow.

The next morning, a curious bull from the farm found a hole the wall of his field. Clambering over, he found some grass on the overgrowing track bed, and beckoned the rest to follow. One by one, they left the field, and followed down the track towards the entrance to the tunnel. The bull stopped outside the mouth of the tunnel, and gave in.

Meanwhile, Molly was having a great run, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, the bull was in the tunnel... the bull was in the tunnel?! Molly screeched to a halt, frozen stiff, and absolutely petrified! Not far from the tunnel, Zack was simmering in the yard. He arranged the trucks and coaches earlier than ever, and was taking a well-earned break, when the foreman came to see him.

Foreman: Zack, I need you to take the cattle truck and brakevan along, to the tunnel. There's a stray herd of cows of the farmer's, and it's holding Molly's train up.

Zack: Right-o! {He couples up to the cattle truck and brakevan.}

Molly was waiting in the tunnel, and refusing to come out. You see, she had a nasty accident with a bull not long ago, and since then, had been afraid of cattle in general.

Molly: I'm not coming out! I can't stand cows in the know!

Marzipan: All right, Molly. They're sending down the farmer to take them away.

The bull turned back to look at Molly, and she gulped. The bull mooed mournfully. He just wanted some more grass to eat. There was no grass anywhere on the gravel track. What was more, a strange brown thing was approaching him. It looked to the bull, like another larger cow, and moved closer to it, interested. The brown cow was Zack's brakevan, and he stopped not far from the tunnel. The farmer jumped down from the brakevan, whispered sweet nothings to his prize bull, and led him and the herd down the track, back towards the field. Molly watched, mesmerized, and Zack smiled knowingly. Molly started again, and whistled her thanks. Zack could only watched as the D16 checked the level crossings for signs of cows.

Later that day, Molly was telling Thomas, Emily, and Neville that Zack had saved her life. Spencer had recovered from his mishap, and looked bored-witness. He spent a difficult few days at the works, as they tinkered with his wheels and motion, and this not helping his already bad mood. So raising steam, whistling loudly, he puffed away.

Spencer: I have to go and do the choral runs, you know. A few days at the works does make an engine stiff.

Molly continued her story, and Thomas and Emily, both tried after a long day, were having difficulty keeping up with the ever revolving story.

Molly: I was surrounded by a herd of bulls, with no way through! But Zack sifted him with his little train and scared him away! If it hadn't been for Zack-

Thomas and Emily looked at Zack questioningly, and Zack simply grinned back at them. Thomas and Emily understood instantly, and laughed. The message was simple. Actions speak louder than words, and it only takes Molly to come up with some cock-and-bull story!

THE END

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