A Real Pain in the Neck

a Discworld fan fiction by Beth Einspanier

Discworld and all related locations and inhabitants therein are the property of Terry Pratchett. He can have them back when I'm done with them, and I promise not to kill any major characters in this fan fiction. Only trained professional extras will be killed. All rights reserved.

Author's Note: This is just a Lancre vignette that popped into my head after watching Sleepy Hollow. I'm not sure where, if anywhere, to go from here, so comments and suggestions are massively appreciated.


A lone traveller shambled along the lonely road that wound through the Ramtops, its course averaging towards the small town of Lancre. He had walked for several miles already, but he showed no signs of exhaustion, and even though he was in the middle of wilderness, he carried no supplies with him. As he walked, trying to hum a few bars of some half-remembered tune under his breath, he paused and cocked his head at a distant sound that rapidly drew closer. Hoofbeats. He turned and looked back along the road he had just travelled, and saw a figure on horseback pounding up the road towards him. In the half-light of dusk, the traveller saw the horseman draw a sword a few moments before hearing the hiss of steel. The horseman thundered past him at full gallop.


A round object flew high into the air and bounced away into the bracken as the horseman continued past without slowing. The hoofbeats faded into the distance, headed towards Lancre. A startled pause slipped into place briefly, before being frightened away again by a raspy voice from the bracken:

"Damn. I just fixed that."

Jason Ogg, master blacksmith of Lancre, had just doused his forge for the night and was headed to lock up for the night when someone knocked at the door. He hesitated, wondering who would be outside at this hour, and finally went to the door and opened it. The figure standing outside was oddly shaped, leading Jason to think that perhaps it was an Igor from Uberwald.

"Can I help you?" he asked the visitor.

"I hope so," said a raspy voice from a location within the silhouette that strengthened Jason's theory, "Could I borrow some twine and a needle?" The figure thrust an object into the lantern-light. Jason jerked back. The object in question was a severed head, with an expression of concerned annoyance on its face. "I had a bit of a mishap on the road," said the head. As Jason's mouth opened and closed silently, the head tried to look charitable. "I really won't be a bother," it said, "I just need a bit of time to sew my head back on and I'll be on my way."

As the zombie watched, Jason's voice welled up in his throat with the patient inevitability of a particularly pungent pocket of methane working its way up from the depths of the moor. When it broke free, the zombie looked a bit puzzled. The blacksmith, who was easily big enough to break the zombie in half over his knee, was screaming for his mum.