“I wonder where I am?” said Thomas the Truth Truck, sadly.
Thomas had been locked away in a dark shed for many, many months now. He hadn't been taken out to see the crowds of merry onlookers – who so loved to see him and shout and throw things whenever he came down their street – since last June.
“And to think the Fat Controller, Sir Nicking Twatt, said such nice things about me in the past.”
Thomas had once been the pride of The Fat Controller's company. He had cost a lot of money, and Sir Nicking had been very busy writing letters to his friends across the Island asking everyone to send cheques to pay for “A brand new and custom built Truth Truck”.
Thomas had thought this was a bit funny at the time, because he knew he wasn't “brand new and custom built”; in fact he was already driving around a different island, advertising different things.
But Sir Nicking, after writing thousands of letters and counting hundreds of cheques, had soon collected enough money to buy Thomas.
“In fact”, Sir Nicking used to laugh with him when they were alone; “I collected three times as much money as I needed!”
Sir Nicking was a very, very clever Fat Controller, thought Thomas, and the people who sent him so much money were very, very silly.
He remembered the wonderful day when Sir Nicking had proudly unveiled him. “You're a really useful moneymaker”, he'd whispered lovingly to him.
And Thomas had once been on a marvellous tour of the Island, when he had happily tooted his horn as people came out of their houses to shake their fists at him and shout things he couldn't quite understand.
It all seemed a very long time ago now, as he sat in this dark, dark shed.
He wasn't even sure any more that he had ever really been “bought”. He might have just been borrowed from his old owner.
Then a voice in the darkness made Thomas jump. In the gloom at the back of the shed was an old, rusty bus covered in an oily tarpaulin.
“I was Sir Nicking's Really Useful Moneymaker once...” said the bus. “My name's Boudica”.
“I've heard of you...” said Thomas; “but I've never actually seen you before.”
“Hardly anyone ever did”, said Boudica. “I was just another thing for Sir Nicking to raise money for and then forget about...”
“And now he's done exactly the same thing to you...”
Thomas felt sad. It had all been very exciting to think that he was going to be so important to Sir Nicking's plans, but now he knew that he would just be quietly forgotten about, now that he'd served his purpose.
Suddenly, the door of the shed opened.
It was Sir Nicking Twatt himself, carrying a strange-looking object.
Sir Nicking put the object down and left the shed, bolting the door behind him.
Thomas and Boudica looked at their new neighbour.
It was a sad-looking computer.
“Hello.” Said the computer: “My name's Alfred...”