Diggers /

A group of small creatures called nomes, whose families have lived for generations hidden in a department store, are forced to flee to a country quarry, where they struggle against harsh weather, destructive humans, and dissension among themselves.

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Main Author: Pratchett, Terry.
Format: Book
Published:New York : Delacorte Press, 1990.
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The Bromeliad Trilogy: Diggers Chapter One I. And in that time were Strange Happenings: the Air moved harshly, the Warmth of the Sky grew Less, on some mornings the tops of puddles grew Hard and Cold. II. And the nomes said unto one another, What is this Thing? From The Book of Nome, Quarries Chap. 1, v. I-II "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." Gurder sighed. "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 hitting one another-or hardly ever. 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 was 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 truck 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 hunted only 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 go on 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 highway embankment beside rolling countryside that was full of things that were hungry for fresh nome. The idea that you could die simply of not being alive anymore was a new one to them. "So we buried him up on the edge of the potato field, too deep for the plow. 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 just 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." The Bromeliad Trilogy: Diggers . Copyright © by Terry Pratchett. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Diggers by Terry Pratchett All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.