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A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison

The Circle Game

The rusting Transit parked on the track by the wheat field. Ian and Al climbed out into the night and opened the rear doors. Between them, they could lift the ranging rods, roller and other equipment which they carefully carried into the ripe wheat. Almost at once, they could make out two figures, just feet in front of them in the darkness. Both pairs simultaneously switched on their torches and stared at each other in surprise. Al noted that the two women were also carrying a roller, ranging rods and the other paraphernalia of crop-circle artists. ‘Looks like we’ve all got the same idea,’ he said.

Angela smiled. ‘We’ve not worked in this area before. Didn’t know there was another team about here.’

‘We don’t usually go this far north,’ volunteered Ian. ‘We’ve done most of our work around Avebury.’

Susan became curious. ‘Did you do the big Avebury circles last year?’

‘Yes,’ he replied.

‘They were wonderful. I really admire your work. We mostly do commissions from farmers. These days, charging the New-agers a pound a time to visit a circle pays more than selling the wheat.’

‘What were you planning tonight?’ asked Al.

Susan took some A4 sheets of paper from her pocket and held them in the torch-light.

‘It’s good,’ said Al, recognising the careful planning of a fellow professional. The plan showed the final design but, like their own, it also detailed all the distances, bearings and manoeuvres, chronologically listed, to allow the work to be undertaken in near total darkness. ‘We were going to do this one,’ he volunteered, passing his plan to Susan.

Ian smiled. ‘I’m so pleased to see more women taking up the sport,’ he said encouragingly. ‘We’ll give it a miss tonight. You two carry on.’

‘No,’ said Susan closely inspecting Al’s plan. ‘This design is lovely. It’s also massive. This will really wind-up the New Age alien hunters!’ They all laughed. ‘We’ve done ours a few times before,’ she continued, ‘you carry on.’

It was agreed that Ian and Al would work that night, and the teams said farewell. There was much to do in setting out the patterns and flattening the crop. It was nearly dawn before Al added his usual finishing touch by burning a pattern on the ground with a blowtorch to allow the New-agers to speculate where the alien spacecraft might have landed.

The sun was beginning to rise as Ian started the van, crashed it into gear and began to move forwards. He leaned towards the dashboard and flicked the switch that engaged the cloaking device on the vehicle. Now, even someone standing next to it would not have seen its biometallic shell morphing into sleek lines which folded to reform the flight surfaces. Such an observer might just have noticed the faint, blue glow from the engines as the shuttlecraft silently lifted skywards on its journey back into space to rejoin the mothership on the far side of the moon.