About the Book

Title Page

In the Beginning . . .


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15


Read On

About the Author

Also by Terry Pratchett



Published in Great Britain by RHCP Digital,
an imprint of Random House Children’s Publishers UK
A Penguin Random House Company


This ebook edition published 2014

Copyright © Terry and Lyn Pratchett, 1990
Illustrations copyright © Paul Kidby, 2012
Extract from WINGS copyright © Terry and Lyn Pratchett, 1990

The right of Terry Pratchett to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorized distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

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A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Also by Terry Pratchett, for children:

The Carpet People

The Bromeliad Trilogy:




The Johnny Maxwell Trilogy:

Only You Can Save Mankind

Johnny and the Dead

Johnny and the Bomb

For young adults and above:

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
(A Discworld® novel)

The Tiffany Aching Sequence (Discworld® novels):

The Wee Free Men

A Hat Full of Sky


I Shall Wear Midnight



Dodger’s Guide to London

A full list of Terry Pratchett’s books can be found on

Read On

If you enjoyed DIGGERS, you’ll love WINGS, the final title in the BROMELIAD trilogy about the Nomes – a race of little people in a world of humans.

Here’s the first chapter to get you started . . .


. . . Arnold Bros (est. 1905) created the Store.

At least, that was the belief of thousands of nomes who for many generations1 had lived under the floorboards of Arnold Bros (est. 1905), an old and respected department store.

The Store had become their world. A world with a roof and walls.

Wind and Rain were ancient legends. So were Day and Night. Now there were sprinkler systems and air conditioners, and their small crowded lives ticked to the clock of Opening Time and Closing Time. The seasons of their year were January Sales, Spring Into Spring Fashions, Summer Bargains and Christmas Fayre. Led by the Abbot and priesthood of the Stationeri, they worshipped – in a polite, easy-going sort of way, so as not to upset him – Arnold Bros (est. 1905), who they believed had created everything, i.e. the Store and all the contents therein.

Some families of nomes had grown rich and powerful and took the names – more or less – of the Store departments they lived under . . . the Del Icatessen, the Ironmongri, the Haberdasheri.

And into the Store, on the back of a lorry, came the last nomes to live Outside. They knew what wind and rain were, all right. That’s why they’d tried to leave them behind.

Among them was Masklin, rat-hunter, and Granny Morkie and Grimma, although they were women and didn’t really count. And, of course, there was the Thing.

No one quite understood the Thing. Masklin’s people had handed it down for centuries; it was very important, that was all they knew. When it came near the electricity in the Store it was able to talk. It said it was a thinking machine from a ship which, thousands of years before, had brought the nomes from a far Store, or possibly star. It also said it could hear electricity talk, and one of the things the electricity was saying was that the Store would be demolished in three weeks.

It was Masklin who suggested that the nomes leave the Store on a lorry. He found, oddly enough, that actually working out how you could drive a giant lorry was the easiest part. The hardest part was getting people to believe that they could do it.

He wasn’t the leader. He’d have liked to be a leader. A leader could stick his chin out and do brave things. What Masklin had to do was argue and persuade and, sometimes, lie very slightly. He found it was often easier to get people to do things if you let them think it was their idea.

Ideas! That was the tricky bit, all right. And there were lots of ideas that they needed. They needed to learn to work together. They needed to learn to read. They needed to think that female nomes were, well, nearly as intelligent as males (although everyone knew that really this was ridiculous and that if females were encouraged to think too much their brains overheated).

Anyway, it all worked. The lorry did leave the Store just before it mysteriously burned down and, hardly damaging anything very much, was driven out into the country.

The nomes found an abandoned quarry tucked into a hillside, and moved into the ruined buildings. And then, they knew, everything was going to be All Right. There was going to be, they’d heard, a Bright New Dawn.

Of course, most nomes had never seen a dawn, bright or otherwise, and if they had they would have known that the trouble with bright new dawns is that they’re usually followed by cloudy days. With scattered showers.

Six months passed . . .

This is the story of the Winter.

This is the Great Battle.

This is the story of the awakening of Jekub, the Dragon in the Hill, with eyes like great eyes and a voice like a great voice and teeth like great teeth.

But the story didn’t end there.

It didn’t start there, either.

The sky blew a gale. The sky blew a fury. The wind became a wall sweeping across the country, a giant stamping on the land. Small trees bent, big trees broke. The last leaves of autumn whirred through the air like lost bullets.

The rubbish heap by the gravel pits was deserted. The seagulls that patrolled it had found shelter somewhere, but it was still full of movement.

The wind tore into the heap as though it had something particular against old detergent boxes and leftover shoes. Tins rolled into the ruts and clanked miserably, while lighter bits of rubbish flew up and joined the riot in the sky.

Still the wind burrowed. Papers rustled for a while, then got caught and blasted away.

Finally, one piece that had been flapping for hours tore free and flew up into the booming air. It looked like a large white bird with oblong wings.

Watch it tumble . . .

It gets caught on a fence, but very briefly. Half of it tears off and now, that much lighter, it pinwheels across the furrows of the field beyond . . .

It is just gathering speed when a hedge looms up and snaps it out of the air like a fly.

1 Nome generations, that is. Nomes live ten times faster than humans. To them, ten years is a long lifetime.

Chapter 1


‘Winter,’ said Masklin firmly. ‘It’s called winter.’

Abbot Gurder frowned at him.

‘You never said it would be like this,’ he said. ‘It’s so cold.’

‘Call this cold?’ said Granny Morkie. ‘Cold? This ain’t cold. You think this is cold? You wait till it gets really cold!’ She was enjoying this, Masklin noticed; Granny Morkie always enjoyed doom, it was what kept her going. ‘It’ll be really cold then, when it gets cold. You get real frosts and, and water comes down out of the sky in frozen bits!’ She leaned back triumphantly. ‘What d’you think to that, then? Eh?’

‘You don’t have to use baby talk to us,’ sighed Gurder. ‘We can read, you know. We know what snow is.’

‘Yes,’ said Dorcas. ‘There used to be cards with pictures on, back in the Store. Every time Christmas Fayre came around. We know about snow. It’s glittery.’

‘You get robins,’ agreed Gurder.

‘There’s, er, actually there’s a bit more to it than that,’ Masklin began.

Dorcas waved him into silence. ‘I don’t think we need to worry,’ he said. ‘We’re well dug in, the food stores are looking satisfactory, and we know where to go to get more if we need it. Unless anyone’s got anything else to raise, why don’t we close the meeting?’

Everything was going well. Or, at least, not very badly.

Oh, there was still plenty of squabbling and rows between the various families, but that was nomish nature for you. That’s why they’d set up the Council, which seemed to be working.

Nomes liked arguing. At least the Council of Drivers meant they could argue without hardly ever hitting one another.

Funny thing, though. Back in the Store the great departmental families had run things. But now all the families were mixed up and, anyway, there were no departments in a quarry. But by instinct, almost, nomes liked hierarchies. The world had always been neatly divided between those who told people what to do, and those who did it. So, in a strange way, a new set of leaders were emerging.

The Drivers.

It depended on where you had been during the Long Drive. If you were one of the ones who had been in the lorry cab, then you were a Driver. All the rest were just Passengers. No one talked about it much. It wasn’t official or anything. It was just that the bulk of nomekind felt that anyone who could get the Truck all the way here was the sort of person who knew what they were doing.

Being a Driver wasn’t necessarily much fun.

Last year, before they’d found the Store, Masklin had to hunt all day. Now he only hunted when he felt like it; the younger Store nomes liked hunting and apparently it wasn’t right for a Driver to do it. They mined potatoes and there’d been a big harvest of corn from a nearby field, even after the machines had been round. Masklin would have preferred them to grow their own food, but the nomes didn’t seem to have the knack of making seeds grow in the rock-hard ground of the quarry. But they were getting fed, that was the main thing.

Around him he could feel thousands of nomes living their lives. Raising families. Settling down.

He wandered back to his own burrow, down under one of the derelict quarry sheds. After a while he reached a decision and pulled the Thing out of its own hole in the wall.

None of its lights were on. They wouldn’t do that until it was close to electricity wires, when it would light up and be able to talk. There were some in the quarry, and Dorcas had got them working. Masklin hadn’t taken the Thing to them, though. The solid black box had a way of talking that always made him unsettled.

He was pretty certain it could hear, though.

‘Old Torrit died last week,’ he said after a while. ‘We were a bit sad but, after all, he was very old and he just died. I mean, nothing ate him first or ran him over or anything.’

Masklin’s little tribe had once lived in a motorway embankment beside rolling countryside which was full of things that were hungry for fresh nome. The idea that you could die simply of not being alive any more was a new one to them.

‘So we buried him up on the edge of the potato field, too deep for the plough. The Store nomes haven’t got the hang of burial yet, I think. They think he’s going to sprout, or something. I think they’re mixing it up with what you do with seeds. Of course, they don’t know about growing things. Because of living in the Store, you see. It’s all new to them. They’re always complaining about eating food that comes out of the ground; they think it’s not natural. And they think the rain is a sprinkler system. I think they think the whole world is a bigger Store. Um.’

He stared at the unresponsive cube for a while, scraping his mind for other things to say.

‘Anyway, that means Granny Morkie is the oldest nome,’ he said eventually. ‘And that means she’s entitled to a place on the Council even though she’s a woman. Abbot Gurder objected to that but we said, all right, you tell her, and he wouldn’t, so she is. Um.’

He looked at his fingernails. The Thing had a way of listening that was – off-putting.

‘Everyone’s worried about the winter. Um. But we’ve got masses of potatoes stored up, and it’s quite warm down here. They’ve got some funny ideas, though. In the Store they said that when it was Christmas Fayre time there was this thing that came called Santer Claws. I just hope it hasn’t followed us, that’s all. Um.’

He scratched an ear.

‘All in all, everything’s going right. Um.’

He leaned closer.

‘You know what that means? If you think everything’s going right, something’s going wrong that you haven’t heard about yet. That’s what I say. Um.’

The black cube managed to look sympathetic.

‘Everyone says I worry too much. I don’t think it’s possible to worry too much. Um.’

He thought some more.

‘Um. I think that’s about all the news for now.’ He lifted the Thing up and put it back in its hole. He’d wondered whether to tell it about his argument with Grimma, but that was, well, personal.

It was all that reading books, that was what it was. He shouldn’t have let her learn to read, filling her head with stuff she didn’t need to know. Gurder was right, women’s brains did overheat. Grimma’s seemed to be boiling hot the whole time, these days.

He’d gone and said, look, now everything was settled down more, it was time they got married like the Store nomes did, with the Abbot muttering words and everything.

And she’d said, she wasn’t sure.

So he’d said, it doesn’t work like that, you get told, you get married, that’s how it’s done.

And she’d said, not any more.

He’d complained to Granny Morkie. You’d have expected some support there, he thought. She was a great one for tradition, was Granny. He’d said: Granny, Grimma isn’t doing what I tell her.

And she’d said: Good luck to her. Wish I’d thought of not doin’ what I was told when I was a gel.

Then he’d complained to Gurder who said, yes, it was very wrong, girls should do what they were instructed. And Masklin had said, right then, you tell her. And Gurder had said, well, er, she’s got a real temper on her, perhaps it would be better to leave it a bit and these were, after all, changing times . . .

Changing times. Well, that was true enough. Masklin had done most of the changing. He’d had to make people think in different ways to leave the Store. Changing was necessary. Change was right. He was all in favour of change.

What he was dead against was things not staying the same.

His spear was leaning in the corner. What a pathetic thing it was . . . now. Just a bit of flint held onto the shaft with a twist of binder twine. They’d brought saws and things from the Store. They could use metal these days.

He stared at the spear for some time. Then he picked it up and went out for a long, serious think about things and his position in them. Or, as other people would have put it, a good sulk.

The old quarry was about halfway up the hillside. There was a steep turf slope above it, which in turn became a riot of bramble and hawthorn thicket. There were fields beyond.

Below the quarry a lane wound down through scrubby hedges and joined the main road. Beyond that there was the railway, another name for two long lines of metal on big wooden blocks. Things like very long trucks went along it sometimes, all joined together.

The nomes had not got the railway fully worked out yet. But it was obviously dangerous, because they could see a lane that crossed it and, whenever the railway moving thing was coming, two gates came down over the road.

The nomes knew what gates were for. You saw them on fields, to stop things getting out. It stood to reason, therefore, that the gates were to stop the railway from escaping from its rails and rushing around on the roads.

Then there were more fields, some gravel pits – for fishing, for the nomes who wanted fish – and then there was the airport.

Masklin had spent hours in the summer watching the planes. They drove along the ground, he noticed, and then went up sharply, like a bird, and got smaller and smaller and disappeared.

That was the big worry. Masklin sat on his favourite stone, in the rain that was starting to fall, and started to worry about it. So many things were worrying him these days he had to stack them up, but below all of them was this big one.

They should be going where the planes went. That was what the Thing had told him, when it was still speaking to him. The nomes had come from the sky. Up above the sky, in fact, which was a bit hard to understand, because surely the only thing above the sky was more sky. And they should go back. It was . . . something beginning with D. Density. Their density. Worlds of their own, they once had. And somehow they’d got stuck here. But – this was the worrying part – the ship thing, the aeroplane that flew through the really high sky, between the stars, was still up there somewhere. The first nomes had left it behind when they came down here in a smaller ship, and it had crashed, and they hadn’t been able to get back.

And he was the only one that knew.

The old Abbot, the one before Gurder, he had known. Grimma and Dorcas and Gurder all knew some of it, but they had busy minds and they were practical people and there was so much to organize these days.

It was just that everyone was settling down. We’re going to turn this into our little world, just like in the Store, Masklin realized. They thought the roof was the sky, and we think the sky is the roof.

We’ll just stay . . .

There was a truck coming up the quarry road. It was such an unusual sight that Masklin realized he had been watching it for a while without really seeing it at all.

‘There was no one on watch! Why wasn’t there anyone on watch? I said there should always be someone on watch!’

Half a dozen nomes scurried through the dying bracken towards the quarry gate.

‘It was Sacco’s turn,’ muttered Angalo.

‘No, it wasn’t!’ hissed Sacco. ‘You remember, yesterday you asked me to swap because—’

‘I don’t care whose turn it was!’ shouted Masklin. ‘There was no one there! And there should have been! Right?’

‘Sorry, Masklin.’

‘Yeah. Sorry, Masklin.’

They scrambled up a bank and flattened themselves behind a tuft of dried grass.

It was a small truck, as far as trucks went. A human had already climbed out of it and was doing something to the gates leading into the quarry.

‘It’s a Land Rover,’ said Angalo smugly. He’d spent a long time in the Store reading everything he could about vehicles, before the Long Drive. He liked them. ‘It’s not really a truck, it’s more to carry humans over—’

‘That human is sticking something on the gate,’ said Masklin.

‘On our gate,’ said Sacco disapprovingly.

‘Bit odd,’ said Angalo. The man sleepwalked, in the slow, ponderous way that humans did, back to the vehicle. Eventually it backed around and roared off.

‘All the way up here just to stick a bit of paper on the gate,’ said Angalo, as the nomes stood up. ‘That’s humans for you.’

Masklin frowned. Humans were big and stupid, that was true enough, but there was something unstoppable about them and they seemed to be controlled by bits of paper. Back in the Store a piece of paper had said the Store was going to be demolished and, sure enough, it had been demolished. You couldn’t trust humans with bits of paper.

He pointed to the rusty wire netting, an easy climb for an agile nome.

‘Sacco,’ he said, ‘you’d better fetch it down.’

Miles away, another piece of paper fluttered on the hedge. Spots of rain pattered across its sunbleached words, soaking the paper until it was heavy and soggy and . . .

. . . tore.

It flopped onto the grass, free. A breeze made it rustle.

Chapter 2


Gurder shuffled on hands and knees across the paper which had been taken down from the gate.

‘Of course I can read it,’ he said. ‘I know what every word means.’

‘Well, then?’ said Masklin.

Gurder looked embarrassed. ‘It’s what every sentence means that’s giving me trouble,’ he said. ‘It says here . . . where was it . . . yes, it says here the quarry is going to be re-opened. What does that mean? It’s open already, any fool knows that. You can see for miles.’

The other nomes crowded around. You certainly could see for miles. That was the terrible part. On three sides the quarry had decent high cliff walls, but on the fourth side . . . well, you got into the habit of not looking in that direction. There was too much of nothing, which made you feel even smaller and more vulnerable than you were already.

Even if the meaning of the paper wasn’t clear, it certainly looked unpleasant.

‘The quarry’s a hole in the ground,’ said Dorcas. ‘You can’t open a hole unless it’s been filled in. Stands to reason.’

‘A quarry’s a place you get stone from,’ said Grimma. ‘Humans do it. They dig a hole and they use the stone for making, well, roads and things.’

‘I expect you read that, did you?’ said Gurder sourly. He suspected Grimma of lack of respect for authority. It was also incredibly annoying that, against all the obvious deficiencies of her sex, she was better at reading than he was.

‘I did, actually,’ said Grimma, tossing her head.

‘But, you see,’ said Masklin patiently, ‘there aren’t any more stones here, Grimma. That’s why there’s a hole.’

‘Good point,’ said Gurder, sternly.

Then he’ll make the hole bigger!’ snapped Grimma. ‘Look at those cliffs up there –’ they obediently looked, ‘– they’re made of stone! Look here –’ every head swivelled down to where her foot was tapping impatiently at the paper, ‘– it says it’s for a motorway extension! That’s a road! He’s going to make the quarry bigger! Our quarry! That’s what it says he’s going to do!’

There was a long silence.

Then Dorcas said: ‘Who is?’

‘Order! He’s put his name on it,’ said Grimma.

‘She’s right, you know,’ said Masklin. ‘Look. It says: “To be re-opened, by Order”.’

The nomes shuffled their feet. Order. It didn’t sound a promising name. Anyone called Order would probably be capable of anything.

Gurder stood up and brushed the dust off his robe.

‘It’s only a piece of paper, when all’s said and done,’ he said sullenly.

‘But the human came up here,’ said Masklin. ‘They’ve never come up here before.’

‘Dunno about that,’ said Dorcas. ‘I mean, all the quarry buildings. The old workshops. The doorways and so on. I mean, they’re for humans. Always worried me, that has. Where humans have been before, they tend to go again. They’re rascals for that.’

There was another crowded silence, the kind that gets made by lots of people thinking unhappy thoughts.

‘Do you mean,’ said a nome slowly, ‘that we’ve come all this way, we’ve worked so hard to make a place to live in, and now it’s going to be taken away?’

‘I don’t think we should get too disturbed right at this time—’ Gurder began.

‘We’ve got families here,’ said another nome. Masklin realized that it was Angalo. He’d been married in the spring to a young lady from the Delicatessen family, and they’d got a fine pair of youngsters two months old and talking already.

‘And we were going to have another go at planting seeds,’ said another nome. ‘We’ve spent ages clearing that ground behind the big sheds. You know that.’

Gurder raised his hand imploringly.