The Unknown part 2

This is a piece I have been writing/ working on. I have taken onboard constructive feed back from everyone, i appreciate the help. Hopefully, my work shows improvement and that I have indeed learnt new skills.

Please drop a comment. Its always good to know if the story was easy to follow, or where I have gone wrong.

  Stepping off onto a flimsy partially lit platform, he nursed his calf’s muscles, slumped against a nearby railing. The stairs were difficult at the best of times, and his overweight physic hadn’t helped matters. The balcony had just enough room to get in and out from the outside world. It had been a design flaw from day one, but due to depleted finances, it was a problem he overlooked. His eyes were drawn to the door opening switch, it seemed so long since he`d last seen it and due to circumstances, it was a welcomed sight.

  He pushed the door opening switch, with a click, the button activated. A Hissing noise erupted as compressed air chased around the door’s inner workings. It was the moment of truth. Would the doors open or had they been damaged? The gas escaping stopped abruptly accompanied by an audible grind, then the doors began to open slowly outwards. Light seeped into the confined space revealing mounds of white dust along with rubble along the platformed surface. Sunlight almost blind Jordan, it was the first time in months he’d seen anything other than a torchlight. Once his eyes adjusted, he leapt out of the partially opened doors landing firmly on his feet on a patch of grass and basked in the freely available oxygen.  
  A winters breeze sliced through a tear in his dust-covered sweater and a bitter taste assaulted his tongue as he looked towards the city from behind a cluster of oak trees. Concealed under the tree`s thick canopies he could do nothing but watch as machines attacked his beloved city. Scattered around the city buildings were ablaze, some even destroyed, dark smoke majestically raised from the burning buildings darkening the city’s skyline.  
  Rolling his eyes left to right with a subtle turn of his head. He scanned through the smog for signs of life, it was useless the city was more than ten miles away and visibility was poor; on a clear sunny day, it would have been easy to see the city’s gridlocked roads and bursting sidewalks. Was this the same city he had spent a lifetime, a city he`d grown to love and adore? Or was this another dimension a parallel universe maybe? Had it not been for the city’s unique cathedral which now had a broken spire and collapsed sections of walls. He wouldn’t have believed it was his city, not for one moment. Masked under the forests thick canopies he felt relieved, the machines didn’t know he was there let alone existed; they were too busy unleashing firepower onto the helpless city. Beams shot across the smoke infested sky from the machines, their space-age bullets made easy work of destroying target`s. It was good to see the occasional muzzle flash as city dwellers fired back at the machines, but their shots were few and far between.  
  The machines looked remarkable, a clear feat of human engineering and mechanical muscle. In different circumstances, he’d certainly be the guy to wave and take photos of the encounter (a one to tell the grandkids). However, these weren’t friendly, not one-bit. The walking machines square-shaped upper halves looked impenetrable, against their darkened surfaces were rows of highly polished silver cannons with red glowing tips. They’re under halves consisted of six metal legs resembling that of a spider, they scuttled across the ground leaving a trail of carnage.  
  Before the first explosion that confined Jordan to the bunker, the city had been presented an award- City beauty award. It was easy to see why, from the elegant skyscrapers to lavish high-tech houses combined with forested areas, it had it all. The city received financial funding from an organisation called BITAF, pioneers in robotic technologies and advanced weapons systems. It was a mystery why the company liked the island, maybe its isolation from the rest of the world was appealing.  
  “What the hell they shooting at,” he said aloud fully engrossed in the chaos. A sudden doubtful feeling overcame his thoughts “The bag”- he needed to check its contents. He slung the back from his shoulder onto the shrubbery with a clatter. His dirt-encrusted fingertips pulled at the bag’s zip and with ease, it opened. Rummaging through its contents, with a partial smile he muttered: “It`s all there.” His hands started to move erratic and smile dissipated. “Wait a minute… Where is the torch?” It hit him like a high-speed train he`d seen it (used it) down in the bunker: truth be told, organisation skills were never his strong point, an embarrassing weakness. Frustrated with a look of disappointment he barked “How could I have been so stupid”, in a fit of rage he closed and secured the backpack to his shoulder, using its one strap.   
The frustration wore off and through a clearance in the above canopies, rays of sunshine kissed vegetation, all around flowers of many colours blossomed and wildlife could be heard given a sense of normality to the green paradise. The sun was high, there would be another several hours of sunlight before nightfall. He focused on the next pressing matter. Where to go? The city was not an option.   
  Barely visible to the naked eye was a dirt path covered by; wildflowers, nettles and thorn bushes. He rushed over to the path “A way down.” The distant firing mellowed, replaced by his footsteps crushing twigs and leaves as he descended the hillside. After thirty minutes of travelling, the route levelled off and dirt path vanished. The trail had led him into a forested area which looked familiar, childhood memories flooded his consciousness. “Yes, it is, there’s the tree,” Jordan acknowledged his surroundings and walked up to a pine tree, etched into the bark were his friend’s names, they often visited to climb, make dens and everything else children did. Old man Jones- the town drunk, would be sat slurping on a bottle of beer wearing his prized possessions; a karki jumper with shimmering medals, polished boots, military patterned trousers and greasy combed back hair. Jordan could never forget that awful aroma of stale sweat intertwined with alcohol as the drunk told tales. One story that sprung to mind was of an underground tunnel network leading straight to the BITAF research wing, not such a children’s story but was intriguing all the same. Jordan laughed as he recalled the old man’s slurred warnings. “I sayyy, it’s a way of keeping experiments from the watchful eyes of the public.” Jordan chuckled the old man’s voice played on repeat in his thoughts. Ducking and diving, he weaved his way in and out of obstacles along the dirt path.  
  “Psst!” Jordan stopped. The colour drained from his face and hairs stood on end, high and low he searched for the sound’s origin but to no avail, he assumed his mind was just playing tricks and after shrugging off the scare, he continued to walk cautiously, his ears fine-tuned, listening to anything and everything. “Psst. We are over here.” There it was again and like a rabbit in the headlights of a car, he froze. It was a voice, clear and unmistakably loud. As he paned left to right, he noticed a stack of felled trees with a gaping hole in the canopy above, light shone down onto a mass of butchered tree stump`s. Two broad figures stealthily crept out from behind the heap of chopped trees, glaring as they moved into crouching positions in front of the chopped timber. Their black weapons pointed at Jordan’s chest, one wrong move and he be a goner. Their black military uniforms stood out like sore thumb`s in the abundance of greenery, after several seconds of scrutinising Jordan, they realised he posed no threat, step by step they advanced towards his position.  
  The three men were now stood within proximity of each other trapped in a deadlock of silence. One of the men stepped forward and lowered his weapon, his composure calm and collective. “I’m Mike, and this is Frank. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Uhm, you are?” He stuttered, “My name is Jordann” clearly on edge. Mike looked in his late 30s, wearing a beany hat rolled at the sides, his crystal blue eyes seemed to reach out into Jordan’s soul, calming his nerves. Frank grunted as he looked straight through the jittering mess. Frank too wore the same style hat as Mike, he had a much older complexion, scars were littered across his face not to mention a stare that could belittle the toughest of men. Mike said “Where you coming from friend” in a non-threatening tone.   
  Jordan responded instantly. “I have travelled down the hill, I was at the top, the lookout. I have (well had) a bunker but these explosions caused it to collapse, i just managed to escape. What’s going on out here.” Infuriated by his reply, Frank spat onto the ground and pointed his weapon higher followed by an aggressive outburst. “A bunker you say, a bloody bunker. Do you think we were born yesterday?” Frank turned to Mike with a menacing smile and said, “Let us teach this smuck a lesson boss.”   
  Mike pushed the barrel of Frank`s rifle to the floor, and in an authoritative voice, he spoke. “We will do no such thing Frank, you have so much to learn. Jordan wasn’t it… excuse the poor manners from Frank he’s an old boy. What’s the saying? You can’t teach an old dog new tricks or something like that.” Mike scowled at Frank to remind him that he was a mere worker, an underdog. Through the build-up of dirt on Frank’s cheeks, redness emerged like hot coals. Jordan without showing it took comfort known the hardass gets embarrassed, he felt safe now knowing his newfound friend Mike, controlled the scar riddled man.”  

© jordancoburn 2023
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“Scattered around (across) the city, buildings were ablaze; some destroyed as dark smoke majestically (hungrily or invasively) darkened the skyline…” This should be the first sentence of the story.

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