Clarence Johnson scraped a shallow hole into the hard desert sand and wriggled under the chain link fence. Once past the obstacle, he lay still, listening to for any hint of detection.
After an appropriate wait, and hearing nothing, he picked himself up, dusted himself off, and strode forward confidently. He did not mind standing out starkly in the impossibly bright moonlight. He was clearly alone.
He’d infiltrated a boneyard. The remains, not of flesh and blood, but aluminium and steel, stretched out in endless rows before him. He gazed at aircraft no longer needed and set to pasture in an arid time capsule.
He leaned against a fuselage, still warm from the heat of the day, and pulled a map from his pocket. He’d meticulously copied the directions and a crude diagram. The objective was the third plane down row two in quadrant two. Johnson oriented himself and made haste in that direction.
For all of his special skills, he was not versed in aircraft identification. He did not feel awe at the decades of aviation history he was walking beside, but he was impressed by the sheer scale of the facility. He did not need to count the four and a half thousand individual planes to know that without the map, he would be searching for a needle in a haystack.
When he arrived at his destination he took note of the craft in question. Smaller than most of the others around it, it had a sharp, vicious look about it. A fighter, he assumed. He was right. He consulted his instructions and found the proper panel on the side of the plane. He produced a screwdriver from his tool belt and removed the section.
The action revealed a void in the airframe. Johnson reached inside and found what he had been sent to recover. He turned the prize over in his hands. Strange, how something so important could have been misplaced for so long. He now understood why so much effort had been expended to find it again.
He had turned to retrace his steps when a light snapped on.
“Halt! Stay where you are!” was the shouted command.
Johnson held up his arm to shield his eyes.
“Do not move! We will use deadly force!”
Johnson took one more look at the object in his hand. He realized that to survive, he only had one option. Moving swiftly, he ducked under the engine of a massive bomber and began to run past the sleeping giants and towards the fence with the empty desert beyond.