I grew up in the arctic.
In the town I lived in, as long as it was a clear night, it was an extremely normal occurrence to see all sorts of strange lights move across the sky. Keep in mind the winter is long in the arctic, which means longer amounts of time being spent under the stars. It's quite beautiful, as long as you don't mind the cold so much. Sometimes I would drive a snowmobile a few kilometers out of town, shut it down, and just lay down on the snow looking up at the majesty of it all, the only thing disturbing the silence being the occasional breeze.
The northern lights are also a common occurrence. Doesn't happen everyday, but often enough that they start getting ignored after a while, as long as they aren't too spectacular anyway.
On one particular night, without asking my parents (it was their snowmobile), I decided to go on one of my midnight drives out of town. I drove a few kilometers over the hills to find a spot devoid of light pollution from town, shut off the machine, and settled in to a good spot to look up and be introspective.
It wasn't all that interesting a scene. A few satellites passing here and there, some relatively boring activity affecting the magnetic field, etc. And then I started noticing a clicking noise...
At first I thought it was the sound of the snow machine cooling down, as engine expands and contracts a lot in the cold. But the source of the sound definitely wasn't coming from that direction. My next thought was there must be an animal nearby in which case I need to get out of there fast (you don't really want to mess with a wild animal). But, the clicking is far too regular for an animal to produce it. It was fairly mechanical sounding. And again, the source of the sound isn't coming from anywhere around me laterally. It was coming from up. So naturally I look up determined to ascertain the origin of this strange noise.
I see what I always see: stars, northern lights, a lazy satellite crossing the sky...all normal stuff. But before I dismiss it altogether and begin heading home, I notice something strange in the Aurora Borealis. There were three rather strong points of light. I ignored them at first thinking they were oddly symmetrical stars, but this proved false. They were definitely getting brighter. I kept staring in morbid fascination as they grew stronger and stronger, yet still only remaining single points in the sky. All the while the clicking noise is getting louder and louder and more pronounced, almost like someone started with tapping a pen on a desk to clacking billiard balls together inside my head.
Then it stops. The lights are gone, the clicking is not heard, and aside from being a little stiff, cold, and rather petrified, I'm fine.
So I jump back on the snowmobile thinking maybe I'm going crazy. The machine takes a little longer than usual to start up, and I'm beginning to worry, but soon it's running and I'm heading back to town. As I'm driving back several plausible scenarios as to what occurred are running through my head. I'm thinking it could've been a helicopter from the mine, or some strange northern lights behavior etc. Probably not that big a deal.
I pull up to my house. Lights are all dark. Strange. It wasn't that late when I left. Open outer door as quietly as possible, remove winter gear, enter inner door. House is quiet. Really quiet. My parents are teachers and are usually up late marking or watching T.V. All I'm thinking is I have to get to bed without anyone noticing. Proves to be easy as I'm soon under my covers. I go to set my alarm for the next day. All of the sudden everything makes sense.
Engine hard to start, stiff, rather chilly, nobody up when I was gone what felt like relatively short period of time...
It was almost 11:00pm when I left, and now it was creeping up on 6:00am. I stood, staring at clicking lights for almost 7 hours.
I never ended up sleeping that night, and I don't go on late night snow machine rides anymore.