Thomas and Friends has been one of the longest running kids' shows, starting in 1984. Originally, it used models, but transitioned into CGI in 2008 and 2009. It's really come a long way, and I was glad to be one of the people working on it. I worked for HIT Entertainment as one of the show's writers.
I still work for HIT, but no longer work on the actual show. Since Mattel has recently bought HIT, they are completely changing the show into something called "Thomas and Friends: Big World, Big Adventures!" which I am pretty sure is going to be a total failure.
The main reason I stopped working on the show was because my favourite two characters, Edward and Henry, got the boot to be replaced by two new female characters, which I hated. Mattel thought it was better this way, because the steam team was unbalanced in terms of gender (only one female engine, six male). However, I thought this was a horrible idea, because Thomas and Friends already had an almost equal audience of male and female viewers, thus rendering the addition of these characters completely pointless besides benefiting to the plot, which is Thomas going on an adventure around the world with one of the female characters.
Instead of working on the show, I create individual shorts with a group of my favourite co-workers, which are most often focused on Edward and Henry rather than Thomas. They are aired on TV, but also uploaded to YouTube.
Anyway, enough with that. It's time to get to the point of this story.
It was March 5, 2015. The Adventure Begins, my favourite Thomas and Friends special, had just been released on March 3. I was proud of myself for helping with it.
That day, I was browsing through a bunch of documents about the show when I discovered one called "Thomas and the Unfinished Bridge - Restricted".
This got me confused. I kept track of all of the Thomas and Friends episodes, and I knew that there wasn't one called "Thomas and the Unfinished Bridge".
I asked my boss about this document.
"Oh, that?" He asked, seeming slightly concerned. "In 1988, an episode was going to be made called 'Thomas and the Unfinished Bridge'. But it was never aired."
"Why?" I asked.
"Well, it was supposed to be a regular episode." My boss explained. "Although it wasn't part of a season, as the last season before the episode was made in 1986, as you know. The episode was supposed to happen like this: Thomas was doing something normal, and his brakes began to fail. He was going towards an unfinished bridge, with a bunch of passengers inside a coach he was pulling. Luckily, Edward saw this and managed to stop Thomas by coupling up to the couch and applying his brakes. Somebody working at the company made a draft of the episode and sent it to the show's main creators in a VHS tape. I think the guy's name was Eric. Then, the company noticed some things in the draft. They fired the person who made it and cancelled the entire episode."
"But why?" I wondered.
"We don't even know, and we don't want to, either." My boss answered.
"And what happened to the VHS tape?" I asked.
"I've been told that the company kept it, but it was stolen by somebody. Nobody knows where it went." He said.
This was sort of creepy. I should have ignored this "Thomas and the Unfinished Bridge" thing, but my curiosity often overpowered me in my life, and this was on of those occasions.
When I got home that same day, I searched Amazon for anything called "Thomas and the Unfinished Bridge". Surprisingly enough, I actually found an old VHS tape with that name being sold by an account which had a username of a bunch of random characters (letters and numbers specifically). I found this odd, and thought maybe I should stop there, but my curiosity got the better of me again. I ordered the VHS tape.
It took eight days for the tape to arrive before it finally did on March 13 (Friday the 13th, what an odd coincidence). I connected my VCR to my TV and inserted the tape into the player. What was on the tape began to play.
What I saw was way too scary, dark, and depressing for a kids' show.
There was no title screen. Instead, the episode just started. This was understandable, because apparently the tape contained a draft.
It started off normally enough, with a shot of Thomas chugging through a forest happily, carrying a coach full of passengers behind him. There were two things that were slightly odd, though. First of, there was no narration, even though there is narration in practically every other episode of the show. And second of, instead of pulling Annie and Clarabel like he'd usually do while transporting passengers, he was pulling a faceless coach.
The episode then showed Thomas approaching a station, presumably the one where he would drop off the passengers. He tried to apply his brakes, and they failed. That's exactly what my boss said was supposed to happen.
Thomas went straight through the station, unable to stop, as the people on the station gave confused looks. The classic runaway theme used in the show during situations similar to these started playing.
Next, there was a shot of the front of Thomas. There was a scared expression on his face. Then, a shot from behind Thomas appeared. It showed him passing a sign reading "WARNING: Unfinished Bridge Ahead".
This episode was already slightly intense for children, but it didn't seem too bad yet.
Then, there was a shot of the passengers inside the coach. They were all screaming in terror, and their screams seemed hyper-realistic as well.
Then, a wide shot showed Thomas passing a siding where Edward was resting. Edward noticed what was happening and sped onto the track, going towards Thomas. Soon, we got to the coach.
However, since it was a coach, there was no one there to couple Edward up to it. This was a serious problem.
There was another shot of the inside of the coach, with more hyper-realistic screams. Then, there was an extremely wide shot showing Thomas getting dangerous close to the unfinished bridge.
Then, there was a shot of the inside of Thomas' cabin. His driver said, "The brakes are working again!" By far, that was the only speaking line in the entire episode besides the screams.
Then, it showed Thomas. He was probably supposed to apply his brakes, but he didn't.
Instead, he smiled and sped up even faster.
Now things were getting seriously messed up. The runaway theme began to lower in pitch, becoming distorted and demonic sounding, with screams playing in the background. Thomas began to laugh.
Then, as I watched with horror, he plunged straight over the side of the bridge with the coach.
I saw Edward brake behind him, just before he went over too. Thomas and the coach landed on a bunch of rocks, getting battered, before falling into a stream. There was one more shot of the inside of the coach, now half-submerged in water. Dead bodies were everywhere.
The screen faded to static for about ten seconds before a scene was then shone of Edward watching in terror as Sir Topham Hatt used a blowtorch to take off Thomas' face, which showed an expression of pure pain and horror. Tears were running down his cheeks.
Then, Sir Topham Hatt took off his face, which immediately came lifeless, and threw it into a nearby pool of molten metal. The face melted away.
"You deserved this, and much more." Topham said angrily.
Ten more seconds of static before another scene appeared. Edward was in the smelter's shed. His driver and fireman were nowhere to be seen. His tender wasn't there either.
"Without Thomas, I am worthless. I must join him again." Edward murmured.
I watched as the claw came down and grabbed Edward. It pulled him upward and dropped him into the huge pool of molten metal. He melted in the pool, on screen. His face melted last, which was horrifying enough, but even worse was that just before his face melted, it could be seen that he had an expression of happiness.
Then, the episode faded to static for good.
I took the VHS tape out of the VCR and snapped it in half. Nobody would ever see this horrific excuse for an episode again.
Later, I noticed that the username of the Amazon account which sold me the tape wasn't just random letters and numbers. It was something encoded in Base64, an encoding scheme that converted words into random letters, numbers, and sometimes other character. After running the username through a Base64 decoder, it came out as a URL for a website. When I visited the website, it was just a couple of sentences written on a blank page, but those sentences scared me.
Children need to know what really happens in the world.
I'll make sure it's not hidden from them.