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Fuel Season 1: Episode 15: Reality Check

It's the mid-season finale as one racer looks to the Greek "gods" of old to bring him good fortune.

The Formula-X series begins its season in September, goes on break for the festive holidays and ends in May. All episodes are dated by SEASON... never by year.

9th of December - Season 1

Juan van Zonder fell into the water and immediately felt the desperate need to get some air. Even with the waves throwing him in every direction, he battled to the surface before taking a huge gulp of air. Not a moment later, another huge wave was sweeping him through the water. But that’s not what worried the man. What worried him was that he’d lost track of his surfboard.

As JVZ – as he insisted that everyone call him – swam back to shore, he had a smile on his face. Despite losing track of his precious surfboard and struggling to swim because of the rainstorm, he was smiling. That was the kind of person that JVZ was: he would never let a little rain stop him from enjoying the natural splendors of the sea. Unfortunately, he was the only one who got that.

When he got to shore, a lifeguard riding on a quadbike, soaking wet approached him. “Hey, what da hell do ya think you’re doing!? You can’t swim in this! You’re gonna die!”

“Nah ah, man.” said JVZ. “Poseidon’s got my back." These weren’t just words to JVZ. He truly believed in Poeseidon and all the other demigods of Greek Mythology. He remembered when he first heard about them and found himself not only in awe but disappointed that a thousand years was all it took for people to forget about these powerful beings. So, he was going to correct that: one man, alone with an unwavering faith in deities long since forgotten. Luckily, he wasn’t considered a religious nutcase… just a plain old nutcase who lived life to the fullest. That’s what brought him to surfing – that and the beautiful beaches of Engels Bay – as well as racing. There was nothing like moving at 200km/h with only centimeters between a racer and the open road.

After stumbling upon his surfboard which had washed up on the beach (and thanking Poseidon for bringing it back), JVZ made his way to his vehicle: a combi which was painted brightly like an ice-cream truck for weed smokers. He changed out of his wet clothes in the seatless back and started his journey to the Fuel Speedway on the other side of the island.

JVZ had considered moving to Ngelosi so that he could be closer to the Fuel Speedway but then thought better of it. Not only was it not worth it to move for a show that only played one day a week, he also couldn’t bare the thought of moving away from the beaches of Engels Bay. He’d grown up by these seas all his life. They were now a part of him as much as he was apart of them. He sometimes liked to think his blood was a mixture of sea water and motor oil.

It was a three-hour trip to Ngelosi but JVZ managed to turn it into a two-hour one as the storm had subsided. While his combi wasn’t anything like his racecar – The Coaster – it could still move like hell on the freeway. It helped that he had a loose respect for the rules of the road. But things looked to get interesting when he saw a familiar face on the main road just after he exited the freeway. Standing there on the side of the road with his thumb in the air was none other than John Kloof.

JVZ slowed down and rolled down a window so he could talk to him. “Hey man, what are you doing out here?”

“My car broke down. I’m looking for a lift.” Kloof then gave the combi a second look. “Is this your ride?”

JVZ smiled. “Yeah man. I call it the Zee-mobile. Hop in. I’ll get you to the Speedway in one piece.”

Kloof did as he was told. Before he could even put on his seatbelt, JVZ was speeding down the main road. “Whoa, jeez, why are you driving so fast? We’re still an hour early.”

“Sorry man. It’s my thing. I always drive so fast. So, what’s up with you and your cars, bro? I mean, isn't The Big Boot also having problems?”

It was true. For the past two weeks, Kloof had lost races due to his vehicle acting up during the race. “Yeah it is. But, I am fixing it. Well at least, I have a plan.” When JVZ asked what it was, Kloof revealed that he found the part he needs but he needs money to get it… money he doesn’t have. That was unless he won a big time pay-per-view race. “I think the winner’s purse from the P.P.V. race will be enough to cover it. But I want to get the race sanctioned first before I order the part on credit. That way I know I can pay if off before Christmas.”

“Hmm,” said JVZ in response. “You need to ask Apollo and Panacea for help, man.” Kloof just looked at him. “I mean, that’s what I’d do.” When Kloof continued to give him a blank stare, JVZ continued. “Apollo is the god of healing while Panacea is the goddess of healing. You know, for your car.”

Kloof realized that he was still staring and felt compelled to say something. “Right, uhm, Roman demigods?”

“Greek.”

Kloof clearly fought the urge to roll his eyes and quickly changed the subject. “So how are you finding your first few weeks on Fuel? Found any rivals yet?”

JVZ shook his head emphatically. “Nah man, I’m not into hostility. I like to promote peace and harmony.”

Once again, Kloof looked at him. “Riiiiight. While I’m all for that and definitely could have used that for the past couple of months with Jim Kieck, I’ve got the feeling that that won’t fly around here. You know Moodswing wants drama out of us, right?”

JVZ knew this. “That doesn’t mean I have to start fights on purpose, bro.”

Kloof couldn’t believe what he was hearing but somehow also admired it, wondering what JVZ would have done in his position two months ago. Of course, Kloof remembered why he ended up going through with it. “Okay, but I mean, what about your ambition. If you one day want to go after the Crown, you’ll need skill and popularity.”

“Right, but I still think I can do that without picking fights.” JVZ saw that Kloof was still sceptical so thought about how to convince him. “Say, what if you faced me at the P.P.V.? I mean, that’s got clout, right? A man down on his luck versus the other new guy?”

Kloof slumped in his chair, ever so slightly, making it clear that he wasn’t exactly thrilled by the idea. “I don’t know, man.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Well I don’t want to face a guy who has no ambition. I mean, just look at the way you challenged me? There was no fire or desire there. I mean, it’s like you were just making a suggestion.”

“What, you want me to make a statement?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay,” said JVZ smiling, “I can make a statement.”

 

LATER THAT NIGHT

As JVZ sped down the asphalt in The Coaster, he thought about everything that led up to the race he was in against The Playboy, Jim Kieck. When him and Kloof had arrived at the Fuel Speedway, Kloof had gone straight to Glen to ask for his race at the pay-per-view. Eager to show Kloof that he did have ambition, JVZ did the next big thing and went to Moodswing and explained that he wanted to challenge Kloof to a race at the PPV but he wanted to make a statement when he did. Moodswing had smiled upon hearing those words and told him he had just the way to not only make that happen but make it the big time race that Kloof needed it to be.

The first step of Moodoswing’s plan was to announce to the live audience that certain racers were going to have to earn their way onto the pay-per-view – which included John Kloof, Styles Sithole, Jim Kieck and JVZ himself, meaning they’d have to win tonight in order to advance to the Year End Bash. The second step in Moodswing’s plan was to pair off Kloof and Styles along with JVZ and Jim so that whoever lost the race would not go to the pay-per-view thus instantaneously raising the stakes.

So, as JVZ kept the pressure on Jim who had edged ahead of him, he could feel the tension mounting. If he was going to have any shot at proving that he had drive and ambition to Kloof, then he was going to have to win this race first. Kloof had already won his race against Styles just a few minutes ago clearly having swapped out the part that he’d spoken about earlier. JVZ wondered if that meant he’d ordered it on credit like he said he would. That's a gamble, thought JVZ. If he lost against Styles, then he wouldn't even be going to the pay-per-viewputting him in debt. Perhaps he’d prayed to Zeus.

JVZ and Jim were now halfway through their 10 Lap Race and JVZ had managed to abscond with the lead, with Jim now trailing just centimeters behind him. As JVZ enjoyed this small turn of fortune heading into the “Fourth Quarter” of the race (as the F-X reporters liked to call it), JVZ thought about what Kloof had said about finding a rival.

In retrospect, JVZ realized that finding a rival didn’t necessarily mean he needed to start a fight with someone. He thought about the article he read in the Formula-X newsletter where Penny Potgieter praised the Duke of Drag, Touch Mkhize on social media despite being the challenger for his title at the Year End Bash. He thought about the latest race to be sanctioned by Moodswing for the Year End Bash which will pit ‘The Diamond in the Rough’, Stevie against ‘The Franchise’, Solo Magubane in a big-time race despite them not being antagonistic to each other. In fact, the two had managed to become rivals simply by going after the same thing: the Formula-X Crown. 

With his ambition now his one central focus, JVZ concentrated on keeping his lead and while The Playboy threatened to steal it from him, JVZ managed to hang on to it to capture the win. However, this wasn’t over until he did one more thing: make a statement. JVZ made a bee line for the Winner’s Circle but before the interviewer could ask him a single question, JVZ grabbed the microphone and stared directly at the camera. “So, John Kloof, I hear you’re looking for an opponent for the Year End Bash. Well look no further because you found him, bro. You want a big-time match race to make some money well you got one now. If you accept my challenge. And rest assured, this race will be so big that you won’t even have to win to get the money you need for The Big Boot. And you will lose, John Kloof. Take that to the bank.”

JVZ then dropped the mic and left, smiling as he did. While he had no intention of starting any rivalries, he realized that Kloof did him a favor giving him a reality check. He did need ambition if he was going to make it here on Fuel. After all, did Zeus not have to go to war and defeat the Titans to gain the power he’s known for? So, what was stopping him from vying for a little power?

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Copyright © Copyright © 2020 by Sphu "Beesting" Kubheka
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