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Fuel Season 1: Episode 24 - Monday Night Reservist

Frustrated from having no race for the night, Styles looks to make the most of his night off...

Playing Reserve: a term in Formula-X that means a racer does not have a scheduled race on the racecard. It has a negative perception amongst F-X racers as it is equated to unpaid leave.

9th of March - Season 1

"What do you mean I don't have a race tonight?" Even as Styles Sithole spoke the words, he was shocked.

"Exactly what I said, Styles," said Moodswing. The Club President then handed him the card with the list of races on it. Styles read the racecard.


The Xulu/Kieck Press Conference

King Mandla (The  Shosholozavs. Low Rez (innominate& R-Kid (innominate)

Jim Kieck (The Kissed-Off) vs. Thawn Oberhauser (The Devil's Advocate)

Dime (Silverback Nickle) & Solo (Abominable Seductionvs. Longitude & Latitude (Heads & Tails)

Touch (Moyeni) & Kloof (Big Bootvs. Stevie (Candyfloss& Brenda (Amazing Grace)


Styles recognised the word "innominate". It was only used in place of race car names when they hadn't been christened. And the only race cars that didn't have a name were the ones that belonged to freelancers: racers not contracted to Formula-X.

Styles looked at Moodswing like he was crazy. "You can't give me a race, but you've got freelancers on the card?"

"Yeah." When Styles continued to just look at him, Moodswing continued. "We need fresh blood sometimes to keep things, well, fresh."

Styles had heard enough and left Moodswing's office. In fact, he left the building, exiting the Fuel Speedway completely before someone finally noticed him, standing in the parking lot.

"Styles?" It was Glenwood Jacobs, the Racing Club Vice President. "What the hell are you doing out here?"

"I'm going home, Glen. I'm not on the racecard so I'm taking off."

Glen narrowed his eyes. "Styles, just because you're not on the racecard, it doesn't mean you can just go home. You're playing reserve."


"So, that means if one of the other racers can't race, then you're in."

Styles rolled his eyes. While he didn't say it to Glen, he was furious about this. For the past two weeks, he'd transitioned into being one of two of the most popular racers in the series. He was finally on his way to a big-time pay-per-view race against Juan van Zonder and instead of getting a race on Fuel to build momentum heading towards the next P.P.V., he was relegated to the sidelines?

Styles shook his head. "Well, call me when that happens," he said, getting in his car and taking off. While he'd held off from saying "I don't care", he felt that his words still had conveyed the sentiment. As Styles sped away from the Fuel Speedway, he didn't relent on the accelerator.

While The Cursed Conundrum was the fastest thing that Styles had ever driven, his personal car wasn't a slouch in terms of speed. Styles owned a green Toyota 86, a sports car that Styles had bought using his earnings from his other job as a clothing designer. In fact, it was that job that paid his bills as his pay check from racing had yet to measure up. Perhaps that was why he was so frustrated... he was finally getting a chance to get a bump in pay from a rise in popularity and he was being left off the racecard!?

Styles had been so distracted that he barely noticed that he was halfway into the downtown area of Ngelosi City. Looking around, Styles saw that he was on the main road that ran straight through the city. As he waited for the traffic light to turn green, Styles tried to calm down. But he was suddenly distracted from his thoughts when a leather-clad motorcyclist pulled up next to him. The biker was dressed in black leather with gold accents complete with a black helmet with gold accents of its own. But there was something familiar about it...

That's when Styles realized something: the biker was a woman. Then he realized what was familiar about the biker: it was her helmet. Except that it wasn't a helmet at all... it was the Duchess of Drag title. "Penny?"

Penny Potgieter responded by pointing dead ahead. Styles looked and saw that Penny was pointing to the last traffic light which must have been half a kilometer away. Styles realized what Penny was suggesting: a race. And not just any race... a drag race. Looking around, Styles saw that there was no one else around.

The moment the light turned green, it was on. Styles was off the line fast, moving to second gear quickly. By the time he got to third gear, he began pulling ahead. There were three traffic lights between the first one and their makeshift finish line which neatly broke their race up into four legs. Styles had taken the first leg, passing the second traffic light first and shifting into fourth gear while keeping his revs high.

By the time they got to the next traffic light completing the second leg of the race, Styles had shifted into fifth gear but the Duchess was pulling ahead. Interestingly, this did not frustrate Styles. After seven months of racing weekly, Styles had learnt how not to be frustrated just because he was losing, especially in the middle of a race. He was still in this. While his sports car wasn't as fast as The Cursed Conundrum, it was still mighty fast.

With Penny maintaining her lead in the third leg, Styles took note that he was currently doing just over 160km/h meaning that Penny must have been doing closer to 170km/h. While Styles closed the gap by the time they reached the fourth traffic light, he was still behind as they started the fourth and final leg of the race.

Styles took note of the pure luck that the street was nearly empty as they sped down the long straight road of the Central Business District of Ngelosi. Styles smiled as he was now neck and neck with Penny closing in on the fifth and final traffic light but lost that smile when Penny narrowly edged away and crossed the finish line first.

While Styles had lost, he was surprised to find that he was no longer frustrated from the event of earlier in the night. The race itself had calmed him down, even putting a smile on his face. Styles followed Penny right into a petrol station where they finally came to stop next to each other. With their engines still idling, Penny lifted up her visor to show her green eyes. She had to shout over the sound of the engines and the muffling of her helmet for Styles to hear her.

"Hey, do you wanna go get a drink?"




They'd gone to a bar not far from where they raced. She was still wearing her leathers which Styles noted suited her curves just right. As a clothing designer himself, he appreciated Penny's fashion sense even for functional wear. When they'd sat down, Penny asked why he wasn't at the Speedway. He told her the reason.

"Playing reserve, huh?" The tone in Penny's voice indicated that she understood the pinch.

"Yeah. But my frustration isn't with not being on the racecard. It's with how not being on the show will impact my rise in stock."

"Hmm. Well take it from someone who hasn't been on the racetrack in three weeks, it's not as hard as it seems."

Styles remembered that Penny was suspended from Formula-X until the next P.P.V. where she would be forced to defend her title against the person that got her suspended: her former relay partner turned enemy, Dime. "Right. I forget that your situation is much worse. Three weeks without action. Must be hard on you."

"Not as hard as watching Dime run around that show saying that I assaulted him. It was one punch and he deserved it. But I guess hearing my side of the story wouldn't be good sports entertainment." Penny explained that her suspension also meant that she couldn't refer to anything in the series on social media lest she get her suspension extended.

Styles picked up on how unphased she seemed about her own absense. "So, you don't care that you're not on Fuel, building momentum for your title race."

Penny smiled and shook her head. "They're plenty of ways of building momentum. Take my current strategy: let the other guy do it." Penny explained that Dime and his big mouth were basically driving them towards their face-off without her even being there.

This was interesting to Styles considering his current dilemma. "What other strategies do you have?" He asked this because he realized that letting JVZ, or worse, Touch Mkhize do all the build up wouldn't work in his case.

Penny simply smiled. "Follow me."




When Styles had followed Penny all the way back to the Fuel Speedway, he'd been surprised. It was the last place that he had expected to find himself tonight... let alone Penny. This was the last place she should be. But that didn't stop Penny from parking her motorbike, buying a ticket at the ticket booth and then walking into the stands like a regular patron. Styles understood the strategy as all eyes were on Penny making her way, slowly through the fans. 

She'd walked right to the front row, despite having bought a cheap seat ticket, and didn't move until all eyes were on her including Dime's who'd just come from the Winner's Circle with Solo. When Dime saw her, he immediately called for security while going to find Moodswing, presumably to tell on her. But it was the racer that was set to go on next that caught Styles' attention: Touch Mkhize.

Styles decided to watch on the big screens from the concourse, instead. He'd watched the feature-race and then stayed to watch Touch on his talk show continue to make a mountain out of an anthill... and he didn't disappoint. Except this time, he'd invited Glen as his guest. And after the last time, he'd been on the show, Glen wasn't going to take Touch's nonsense lying down.

After spending half an hour listening to Touch try and convince Glen to name him the most popular racer in the series instead of either JVZ or Styles, Glen had had enough. "You know what, Touch. I'll admit that you're a box office draw like no other, but it's my job to refrain from having a favourite. And since you've been so good at igniting a rivalry between Styles and JVZ, how about I put you right in the middle of it? How about, at Festival of the Fall, I make it Styles Sithole versus Juan van Zonder versus Touch Mkhize."

Suddenly Styles was beaming from ear to ear. This was perfect. For the past three weeks, Touch has been stirring the pot between him and JVZ, trying to create a rivalry claiming he was just trying to figure out who was the most popular... who was Mister Monday Night. But now Glen was throwing him in the pot, adding him into the mix and Styles couldn't more thrilled.


This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © Copyright © 2020 by Sphu "Beesting" Kubheka
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