Steve Nobody spent a lot of time in the local forest, known as Ragged Wood. He and his schoolfriend, Scotty, were into anything army. They formed a club called the Night Fighters and kitted themselves out in military clothing and equipment. In the local countryside, the boys learned about camouflage and tactical movement. They crossed barbed wire fences and explored the land beyond. With sharpened senses, they walked with stealth at day or night and became skilled in leaving little trail behind. Being surreptitious was essential because the fields and forest beyond were an estate owned by a wealthy family who lived in an enormous country house. The land had tenant farmers and a gamekeeper was employed in part to ensure no one trespassed on the private land.
One afternoon, the boys walked across some fields, over a dilapidated wooden fence and down a hill. Walking along a stream, a farmhouse neared so they dropped to the grass and crawled past. Once through the danger zone, they ran toward the forest. The aim was to explore further than they had ever done before. Up a steep hill covered by trees, they waited close to a track used by the gamekeeper. All was still, so they ran over and into deeper woodland beyond. As they walked through the hilly forest, the stream was meandering below on the right. Then the boys stopped dead.
The noise of a rough engine infiltrated the trees. And that could only mean one thing. The gamekeeper. The vehicle came into sight and moved along the track toward the foot of a hill. It stopped and a door creaked open. Steve crawled forward and spotted the gamekeeper about five hundred metres down below. Harsh barks rang out from two large black dogs. Scotty moved forward and could just make out the dogs tugging at chains. The gamekeeper walked away from their location, but one animal stopped and pulled toward Steve and Scotty. It sniffed the air. The gamekeeper looked toward the boys’ hiding place.
“They’ve picked up our scent,” Steve muttered.
“Shit, let’s get out of here.”
“Wait up… oh… he’s released the dogs!!” Steve took a deep breath.
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