Steve nodded and they readied themselves. As one, they were up and sprinted across the road, down an incline and over a barbed wire fence. Walking through the shadows in the field beyond, the noise of cars receded to the rear. They melted into the night.
“That was close back there,” Scotty said.
“Which one? Your neighbour or that car?”
“Both,” Scotty laughed aloud.
Steve smiled. “We still have to watch out for the farmer and the gamekeeper up ahead.”
“Yep, as ever. But it should be safe at this time. The farmer will be asleep and we’ve never seen the gamekeeper out this late.”
The friends chatted away, but remained vigilant. They walked along the edge of another field with a hedge to their right and wheat on the left. A breeze washed over the crop, causing waves of rustles. Trees rose up from the hedgerow to form imposing dark shapes above. The moon allowed the boys to see enough to maintain a quickened pace. Bats darted overhead and an owl hooted across the countryside. Night sounds made the adrenaline kick in as they kept alert for anything out of the ordinary.
At the end of the fields was a rickety fence. Steve put one hand on and leapt over. As he waited for Scotty, he saw the glow of electrical lights over the village. He turned around and looked toward the forest, shrouded in darkness. The farmhouse over to the right had two lights on upstairs. Scotty was over and the boys walked downhill to the stream.
They made their way along the water’s edge lined with more barbed wire fencing, which had fallen away in places due to eroded stream banks. The sound of the water trickled through the small valley and consumed any noise the boys made while they walked. Every now and then, the moonlight was obscured by scudding clouds. The farmhouse loomed on a hill past the other side of the stream. Now only a single light remained on and the boys slipped silently beyond. Ahead was a final hedgerow before the forest. The boys walked across a triangular field sloping to the left and over final barbed wire fence to enter the woodland. Striking through the fern and up a steep slope was dangerous. It was pitch black in the trees, so the boys switched their torches on. Slipped over the heads of their torches were red filters to protect their natural night vision. The risk of running into the gamekeeper at this time of night was minimal.
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