'Here,' Danny says, turning the car off the road and into a farm track. 'I've used this spot before.'
We glide to a halt under the cover of trees and he shuts off the lights. I look at the clock on the dashboard. It's a few minutes after midnight.
'Are you ready?' He says.
I nod. 'Have we got everything?'
He reaches over to the back seat, pulls out a bag. 'Of course. Let's go.'
Outside the car, he slings the bag over his shoulder. 'This way.'
The first thing that surprises me is how dark it is. I can see the silhouettes of trees and hedgerows against the sky, a hill ahead of us, the glimmer of a town ten miles away. Danny starts walking, and I do my best to follow; slowly, unable to see my feet, testing each step before taking it.
'Don't worry,' Danny says. 'Your eyes will adjust.'
He's right. Soon I can make out his head and shoulders well enough to be able to follow them, to not have to rely on the sound of his boots. Looking down, I can even see where I'm stepping.
'I've hit this location before,' Danny says. 'We shouldn't have any trouble.'
I've only known Danny for a few weeks. We met online, arranged to go for a drink. He outlined his plan. 'Are you sure you want to do it?' he said. I nodded, and over a few pints we worked out the details. He sketched diagrams and made notes. 'When do you want to go ahead with it?' I asked. 'We can do it tonight, if you want,' he said. 'I've got all my equipment in the car.' 'Okay,' I said. We drove out of town, to a pub by a canal, sat in the beer garden and watched the sun set over summer fields, waited for darkness.
We walk along the track in silence. I'm amazed at the sheer volume of stars that shine down at me. Am used to orange and soupy city skies, can't remember when I last saw so many. A crescent moon slides behind the horizon.
'It's a beautiful night,' Danny says.
We soon pass a turn-off leading to a building with a solitary light on at the upstairs floor. It looks like a farm-house.
'This is where it gets interesting,' Danny says. 'The weekend before last, the place I was going to hit had a dog. It heard us, and barked its head off and woke the whole house up. We had to abort. Too risky. We shouldn't have that problem tonight, though.'
At the end of the track, we come to a gate. My eyes have adjusted well-enough now, though I still see only in monochrome; wheat fields stretching away into darkness, a hill ahead of us.
'Get down,' I say, 'there's somebody up on that hill.'
'It's a tree. Anyway, even if there was somebody up there, they wouldn't be able to see us. You can see them because they're silhouetted against the sky. to them, looking down, they see only darkness. You do see people sometimes, though. Ramblers, people out walking their dogs. Once I came across a guy completely starkers, lying on his back in the middle of a field and looking up at the stars. I nearly tripped over him. The last one I did that I was telling you about, last weekend, we did have a couple of people on a hill above us. I think they were watching out for UFOs. The guys I was working with were getting off on it, I think, the idea that we might be spotted. They thought it added an edge to the proceedings. Anyway, we ought to get started.'
We climb over the fence and into a wheat field, follow the perimeter to a tramline. Take it, walk until we can only see crop around us.
'Let's do it,' he says. 'You remember everything I told you?'
YOU ARE READING
'Here,' Danny says, turning the car off the road and into a farm track. 'I've used this spot before.' We glide to a halt under the cover of trees and he shuts off the lights. I look at the clock on the dashboard. It's a few minutes after midnight. '...