“Yes, Mr Worthington?”
“Your train, Mr Casey.”
“Yes, Mr Worthington?”
There was a quiet and uncomfortable pause where Mr Casey nervously ran his dark bowler hats rim through his hands until he could bear the truth no longer.
“Well, when I say yes, it’s not really ‘my train’, per see. In actual fact, I think the train prefers it when we all call him Larry. We're trying to get him to think of a last name and then we thought we'd throw him a naming party.”
Mr Casey watched as his employer's features became flushed. "Actually, it's the investor's train." was spoken quietly.
The curt response, “No, Mr Casey, it is NOT your train, but it IS your problem!” was succinctly spat out by the furious Mr Worthington directly at his nervous employee.
“Yes, yes, Mr Worthington.” The hat was now in high rotation. “Sorry, Sir!”
As he smoothed down his highly waxed moustache, Mr Worthington looked irritably at the young train engineer who continued to stare at his feet, his hat, the sky and Mr Worthington’s left ear.
“I say this very clearly, Mr Casey because it is no one else’s problem, but everyone seems to be affected by your train.” Mr Worthington looked over at the replica steam engine snoring peacefully between two upturned carriages. “What happened to the first- and second-class carriages, Mr Casey?
“Oh, um, the train got a little bit drunk last night and then… well, I guess you could say he got a little bit ‘over friendly’, shall we say, and then… “The engineer started rotating his hat at a reckless speed. “I guess you could say it all ended in tears.” The young man nervously smiled at his stout overseer. “Literarily in tears. He didn’t stop crying until half past three this morning. And, he only stopped whistling ‘Bon Voyage to the remains of the carriages half an hour before you arrived.”
A grey bushy eyebrow was raised above the shining silver monachal, “Bon Voyage, Mr Casey?”
“Yes, Mr Worthington. Bon Voyage, Mr Worthington.”
“It, Mr Casey. The train is an it, not a he, and ‘it’ was tooting Bon Voyage?”
Before he could stop himself, the answer blurted itself out, “Well, if you’d seen what was done to those carriages last night, you’d definitely call the train a he!” Mr Casey snorted out of nervous tension. “Poor Miss Plum didn’t know where to look, and in fact, I was a bit rattled by the whole event as well!”
Mr Worthington sighed like a man who found himself careening over the edge of a cliff and who had decided whilst plummeting that there was nothing worse than falling off a cliff until he saw the bottom of the cliff and realised the end of the fall was going to be worse!
Embracing his fate, Mr Worthington spoke as calmly as his blood pressure allowed. “Mr Casey, you were entrusted to build a replica steam train from the early 20th century. You were entrusted with ensuring it was capable of being interactive with its passengers. You were the one who insisted that Artificial Intelligence was the way to go. And now look.” Mr Worthington swept his tailored suit-covered arm to encompass the view from the signal tower. “Look at the mess you’ve made.”
Mr Casey looked down at his shoes, shame colouring his cheeks deep red. “Yes, Mr Worthington.”
“Yes, Mr Worthington” was echoed back in frustration by its namesake, who was turning red but not through embarrassment. “You had a runaway train, Mr Casey, literally a bloody runaway train.”
“I know, sir, but he didn’t go far.”
A broad, meaty hand was held up to halt the poor young engineer. “I promised my wife I would do nothing to increase my blood pressure; in return, she promised not to nag me when I went to the club for a port. And now Mr Casey,” Mr Worthington’s moustache looked as if it were going to explode under all the pressure of wiggling, “that’s all going to come to a crashing end.”
“I can explain, Mr Worthington.” Mr Casey looked up to meet his boss’s goggled-eyed face, his eyes wide with positive possibilities.
His employer, though, was not interested in seeing the silver lining of a very grey cloud.
“Can you now?” was bellowed across the yard as Mr Worthington really got his steam up. “Can you actually explain to me how the AI, Mr Casey, took over the train and the engineering shed, locked everyone out for two days and then re-emerged with the capability of running? It was literally running around the yard on its eight mechanical legs! Or maybe Mr Casey, you’d like to have a go at explaining how that very same AI destroyed two vintage carriages in a drunken sexual rampage and then cried itself to sleep tooting ‘Bon Voyage’ as his… ITS lament?”
“Yes, yes, I can.” Mr Casey almost ripped the brim of his hat off before taking a very deep and calming breath. He slowly shuddered out, “Fred is very sorry he didn’t erase the old transformers movie off his memory drive before he used it to store some new programming for the air-conditioning systems. But to be fair, “Mr Casey opened his arms wide, showing he was as truthful as any man could be, “who could have guessed the AI would have gone snooping through Fred’s personal files? I mean, poor boy, we didn’t know he was into some of the stuff he’s into. Honestly, we all thought his girlfriend from Canada was completely made up! I agree, though; it was shameful how all his holiday photos were copied and sent out to everyone with lots of humorous notations attached.” Mr Casey smiled at the good laugh the crew had had at Fred’s expense. “Yes, a train it is, an AI definitely but my goodness, he’s got a sharp wit.”
“Mr Casey.” The moustache was now on high-speed twitch.
“Yes, Mr Worthington?” The hat began to rotate again.
“Get your train under control,” was whispered at a deathly quiet volume, “otherwise, it will be a ‘Bon Voyage’ for you!”
“Yes, Mr Worthington!”