It was a Sunday afternoon, and Kyle had been sitting on the wall in his back garden, watching the identical lines of soldiers dressed in white march down the stone path that led out of the city.
He sighed heavily, startling the pigeon next to him that had been oblivious of his existence. It jumped off the wall and flapped its wings, before forgetting that Kyle was there and hopping back towards him, mindlessly pecking at the ground on its way.
Kyle was about to get up and do something more interesting than watch a pigeon, when he noticed the soldiers in the distance running back down the path towards the city. They’d abandoned their neat rows and were scattered across the wide path, running at full pelt. Kyle sat up straighter, wondering if it was a drill.
As the running soldiers got closer to Kyle, he saw one man trip and fall over. The man clutched his ankle, grimacing as the rest of the men ran on without him.
“Help!” he screamed. Kyle recognised his voice- it was the man that used to run the bar on his street,
“I’m hurt! Come back,” the man sobbed. “Cowards!” he screamed, forcing himself to get up and moaning as he shifted his weight onto his bad leg.
Kyle swung his legs over the wall and sprinted over to help the man, soldiers shoving past him. Kyle put his arm around the waist of the wincing man, taking some of his weight. The man grunted appreciatively.
“Thanks,” he said as they hobbled down the path, going as fast as they could with the man’s injured ankle.
“What’s happening?” Kyle asked, looking behind them nervously. “Is there an invasion, or what?”
“There was something huge,” the man said. Kyle could feel the man shaking with terror as they reached the centre of the city. “We only saw it in the distance, but it was coming so quickly.”
Kyle shuddered as the shadow of the church steeple swept over him. He helped the man onto a bench, and sat down beside him.
“Oh god, oh god,” the man kept mumbling to himself, crossing his arms across his stomach and closing his eyes.
“What was it?” Kyle asked, starting to panic, but before the man could reply a siren wailed across the city.
“Attention all citizens,” a deep male voice came through a speaker somewhere above their heads. “There has been report of an unknown being approaching the city. Until we can confirm what it is, we can only assume it poses as an imminent threat. All citizens please meet at the town hall immediately. Do not stop to collect possessions. Parents, please make sure that your children are safe. Please remain calm. Thank you.”
The speaker crackled as the voice stopped. Kyle looked anxiously at the man.
“Ok, let’s go.”
They walked down the streets, turning into alleyways Kyle had never been through before to get to the town hall. It was chaotic: people were running in all directions, looking for family members. A woman had clearly ignored the warning not to bring possessions and was carrying a box full of pictures, books, clothes and a battered teddy bear.
The town hall was one of the oldest buildings in the city, with a large clock that had been broken for over a decade hanging above the wide front door. Moss and ivy had crept up the faded red bricks, and it was clear by the untended flower beds overgrown with weeds that the place hadn’t been gardened in a long time.
Pushing the door open with one hand and holding the man up with the other, Kyle stepped through the doorway, coughing as he breathed in the dusty air. The windows were broken and boarded up, barely any sunlight coming through the gaps in the wooden planks.
The room was overcrowded with people, who were all chattering nervously to each other as they waited for further instruction. Every time the door creaked open they turned to see who it was, and Kyle found that the crowd was staring at him. He helped the man over to where the soldiers were standing, people stepping aside to let them through.
The man scowled at the other soldiers as he sat down on a chair, muttering angrily. His friends looked at him awkwardly.
“I’m sorry mate. I thought you were ahead of me,” one soldier said.
Kyle left the man to listen to the various excuses the soldiers were coming up with, and looked around the room, searching for his family.
His two elder brothers were both soldiers, and Kyle was relieved to see them standing in the corner, their ears pressed against a walkie-talkie.
“Kyle!” Zack, his eldest brother said as Kyle approached them. “Thank god you're safe. We were on guard duty when we heard what was happening.”
Kyle’s other brother, Blaze, nodded. “Seems like we’re under attack. Something huge by the sounds of it.”
“Where’s mum and dad?” Kyle interrupted.
“Just over there,” Blaze said, pointing to the far side of the room. “They saw you come in.”
Kyle looked to where he was pointing, and waved to his parents, who smiled and waved back.
“So what’s happening? I mean, what’s the plan?” Kyle asked, turning back to his brothers.
Zack indicated to the walkie-talkie. “We’re trying to find out, but so far, no idea. We don’t even know what the threat is yet.”
Kyle nearly fell over as the ground shook slightly beneath his feet. His stomach jolted, and he stumbled towards the wall, resting a hand on the peeling wallpaper for balance.
“All citizens evacuate the building immediately!” the voice coming through the speaker shouted. The male voice had lost its cool, and Kyle heard shouting and a door slamming over the speaker, which hadn’t been turned off.
He let the group of people push him towards the door, struggling to keep his balance as the ground shuddered violently. Kyle squinted as his eyes adjusted to the bright sunlight bursting between two clouds, and tried to get a glimpse of what they were running from. He gasped as he saw what it was, less than one hundred metres from where he was standing.
It was a metal giant, taller than the majority of the buildings in the city, sending a shake powerful enough to knock Kyle over with each giant step it took.
It looked like some sort of robot, but not like the ones Kyle had scene in sci-fi movies. It’s face was featureless, and it was made out of scrap metal welded together. Kyle had seen smaller robots before when he’d watched his brothers work, but only bomb disarming ones. This one was terrifying- punching holes in roofs as it got closer to the town hall. Kyle stared at soldiers shooting at it with machine guns, making no difference whatsoever.
“Kyle! Move you bloody idiot!” Zack screamed, tugging at his arm and handing him a pistol.
“Where’s Blaze?” Kyle shouted over the screams and the continuous screech of the alarm.
“Don’t know. Move!”
Kyle sprinted down the street, powered by adrenaline and fear. He gripped the cold handle of the gun, glanced over his shoulder and was horrified to see that the robot was closing in on them with effortless speed. The town hall crumbled into rubble behind them as the giant kicked it repeatedly. Kyle ducked as a brick flew over his head, and a layer of grey dust from the rubble settled on his skin and clothes.
He and Zack both stumbled forwards as the giant took another ground shaking step, this time only about twenty metres behind them. Kyle charged forwards, desperate to get away, but the next step the steel giant took sent Kyle sprawling across the cobbled ground. Zack, not aware that his brother had fallen, was still running.
“Zack!” Kyle yelled, trying to get back up but knocked over again by another shudder. He turned around to face the giant, aiming his pistol at its head. It was so close, Kyle knew he had no chance of escaping, but hoped to buy his brother some time by distracting it for a bit. He shot it three times in the head, but the bullets had no effect on it.
Then, Kyle noticed a small gap in the joint connecting the head to the body, with a thick wire poking out of it. He aimed his gun, the ground still trembling beneath him, and kept firing until he heard a loud click that confirmed he’d run out of ammo. He braced himself for the inevitable blow, squeezing his eyes shut, but nothing came.
Kyle risked a glance upwards, and saw sparks shooting out of the giant’s neck. There was one neat puncture where his bullet had pierced the wire. The robot stood still for a moment, and then began to fall forward. Kyle sprang to his feet, and bolted after his brother as the giant crashed to the ground behind him.
Blaze’s body was found a day after the attack. He was one of the few dozen dead, but the only soldier. The town hall was rebuilt in memory to those killed.
Kyle was considered a hero after killing the giant. He rarely spoke of the incident after hearing about his brother’s death. He became a soldier three years later.
The town was fully rebuilt after a year, with added security measures.