A week later, Steve and Scotty got permission from their parents to camp in Scotty’s back garden. It was the summer holidays and they had already put the tent up, and arranged their gear. The boys each had a bag hidden inside. Scotty’s Mum had cooked some food earlier and they were now in their sleeping bags as dusk settled in. The boys switched off their torches at about 10:30 p.m. and their eyes became accustomed to the darkness. But they stayed awake, whispering about their plans for the night. Scotty looked at his watch and nudged Steve with an elbow. It was 11:36 p.m.
Steve opened his bag and took out some fatigue trousers. Pulling them on, he changed his T-shirt to a green one. Leaning down, he slipped on some black trainers and tied the laces. Unrolling a disruptive pattern material combat jacket, he put it on and did the zip up slowly to reduce noise. He took out a gas mask bag, which was made of sturdy cotton canvas and was khaki-coloured. Inside, he felt for his kit. The army knife was there, as was his life-sized replica Colt 45 pistol, catapult, cagoule, torch and survival kit containing matches, a candle, para cord and a mixture of purple potassium permanganate crystals and sugar. The survival kit was packed into a small tobacco tin, which Steve held in one hand and shook one last time to see if it rattled. All quiet. He looked over at Scotty. They were ready to go. It was almost midnight. For a moment, they listened to the still night.
Scotty unzipped the tent door as Steve put on a pair of black woollen gloves and a balaclava. It was also made of wool, khaki in colour and had a single slit for his eyes. With the tent unzipped, Scotty looked at his friend and paused to give a thumb’s up. He slipped out of the tent and moved to the rear of his house. Steve was out of the tent and took his time doing the zip back up in silence. He lay on his stomach and studied the windows at the back of Scotty’s house. The lights were off. No movement. He stood and ran to meet Scotty. They edged to the corner of the house and Scotty peered down his driveway, toward the road. The street light cast a yellowish haze.
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