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             She had thought it a win-win scenario.  She loved working out on her own.  The young woman – Thumper to her friends – preferred to be alone in the gymnastics facility where she trained.  She was just about to get back on the uneven bars when she heard a door open.  Turning around, she was annoyed to see her rival walk in.  Actually, she wasn’t her rival; Thumper couldn’t be bothered with such trivialities.  Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the red headed athlete striding up to her.  As usual, Red had a look of haughty disdain on her face as she approached her.  Red took her mantle of star of the studio to heart and had developed a refined sense of bitterness where Thumper was concerned.
            She stopped in front of her.  “I’m supposed to have the studio to myself for the next hour.”  Red declaimed.
            “I’m only using the uneven bars.  I won’t get in your way.”  Thumper replied neutrally.
            Red didn’t seem okay with that.  “You're always in my way.”  She replied tartly before turning on her heel and walking over to the beam.
            Thumper just shook head with a small sigh.  She looked at the uneven bars and decided she had done enough.  She retrieved her towel and went back to the locker room where she steamed, took a long cool shower and then changed into some casual sweats.  She briefly considered going back in and trying to come to some understanding with the rouge bitch, but then decided it was simply too much effort.  As she walked out of the locker room, she wandered down the common hallway and out the front doors, waving to the receptionist as she did so.  As she walked out into the humid Newcastle air, she despaired of it ever cooling down again when she felt a tremble beneath her feet.
            It was brief; maybe a second, but she definitely had felt something.  The gymnastics facility bordered an industrial estate that was deserted at this time of day, so it could not have been the result of any activity there.  It had been many years since that terrible day in Newcastle when an angry Earth had visited its fury on the city.  Many buildings had been leveled and there had been several deaths, it was something that she did not wish to revisit.  And yet, she cursed as the vibrations began again.
            It started as a small regular shaking beneath her feet, but it quickly grew in intensity until the street lights were swaying and the ground itself began to heave and crack.  The doors to the gymnastics facility burst open and the receptionist ran outside.  The woman was hysterical.  Thumper knew that the woman had lost her mother in the previous quake, so there was probably some psychology happening that was intensifying her reaction. 
            Unfortunately, she could do nothing to calm the woman down.  Eventually, she pushed on her shoulders until the woman was sitting in the middle of the street sobbing without pause.  Thumper had just settled her on the bitumen when she heard a scream from behind.  She turned quickly and cast her gaze upwards.  On the second level balcony, Red was standing there screaming as the old warehouse style building that was the gymnastics hall shook and buckled around her.  There would have been no time for Red to get outside from the second level work-out space even if she had tried.  Thumper knew that the building would not hold up.  It was over sixty years old and little more than a tin shed.  The sickening sound of twisting metal announced in no uncertain terms that the balcony Red was on would not be a balcony much longer.  Thumper silently cursed for what she was being forced to reveal, but there was a life that was in danger.
            Running forward, she took off and leapt three metres to the top of the metal awning over the entrance-way; lightly rebounding off that, she somersaulted up and over the hand rail of the balcony, and then softly landed next to Red.  The woman was staring at Thumper, clearly dumbstruck at the ability that was plainly magnitudes above her.  Thumper picked her up in a cradle hold and leapt up and over the rail.  Again, she rebounded off the awning to land lightly on the street and immediately ran to the centre of the street, simultaneously throwing Red over her shoulder in a fireman’s hold whilst snagging the hysterical receptionist with the other hand.  With her two passengers, she ran to the open grass of the park across the road and unceremoniously dumped both of them to the ground as she herself dropped down.  She looked up from where she had thrown herself and saw the balcony all but crumble under the violent jolts.
            The entire quake had lasted less than a minute, and yet, once again, fear had come to Newcastle.  Pushing herself up onto her knees, Thumper looked around.  Most of the industrial estate was still in one piece, although some of the less permanent buildings had collapsed.  Several streetlights were down as was the entire front half of the gymnastic hall.  She looked over the other women to make certain they were unhurt.  The receptionist was slowly getting herself under control, but Red was looking at her through an expression of fear.  With a quaking voice she spoke.
            “What the hell are you?”  She asked, fear punctuating every syllable.
            Thumper calmly stared her straight in the eye.  “Something better than you could ever be, and aren’t you lucky.”

The above excerpt is from a work written by Damien Timms and is protected by International Copyright lodged in Australia and the USA and may not be reproduced in part or whole without the written permission of the author.

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