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Fuel Season 1: Episode 3: Speak of the Devil

It's Week 3 in the Fuel Speedway as the 2 claimants to the F-X Throne butt heads

16th of September – Season 1

Thorne Oberhauser had never been accused of being the nicest person in the world. And there was a reason for that: he never tried to be nice. Nice people finished last. That wasn’t just a nifty catchphrase for Thorne, it was a way of life. Being nice was a weakness. It allowed people to take you lightly.

Thorne was a businessman by day: born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he had never really known what it was like to be without money. Everything about him spoke to his riches. In fact, the only thing he owned that didn’t immediately tell you that he was from money was the dark blue Chevrolet 1970s Impala that he drove. It was partially what inspired him to choose the nickname, The Impaler. The other reason was because he liked being compared to Dracula.

Thorne was dressed in his three-piece suit when he arrived at the Fuel Speedway. The other racers always looked at him funny for doing this. And he understood. For them, this was a part-time gig. They were moonlighting. While that was also the case for Thorne, he still chose to take this seriously. Despite his business partners thinking him a fool for partaking in what they called a circus, Thorne believed that there was money to be made here. Unlike most of the other F-X racers, he could see Moodswing’s vision of putting wrestling and Formula One together. It was so unique that it was destined to be a success.

Thorne was currently seated across from Solo Magubane atop a stage, behind a table in front of a small crowd of the local press. It was the press conference for their feature race at Arbour Games where they would face off for the Formula-X Crown. Moodswing had gone all out to make this a genuine experience, camera, microphones going so far as to have one of the boardrooms of the old airport converted into the Fuel Conference Centre.

Thorne’s mind suddenly snapped to the present and he realized that one of the reporters had asked him a question. “Come again,” said Thorne.

“I said what makes you believe that you’re a better racer that your opponent, Solo Magubane?”

Thorne almost smiled at the question. “You mean other than the obvious: that I just am? Well let’s see: how about the fact that I take this seriously. I mean look at how I’m dressed: like a champi—no, like a king. Now look at how he’s dressed.”

Indeed, Solo was dressed in a black leather biker jacket, a henley sweater and jeans. But Solo could speak for himself. “This is not about how I’m dressed, Impaler. This is about how I move on the blacktop. And I. Move faster. Than you.”

“Is that so?”

“You’re nothing but a gentleman driver. Me, I do this for a living. You’re a part-timer; a moonlighter.”

“So is everyone else in the series, that doesn’t make you better.” said Thorne, firing back. “But if you think you are better then why don’t you take me on right now!”

 Thorne was now standing, having had enough.  By the time Solo stood up as well, Moodswing and Glen Jacobs had made their way up to the stage and held them apart as the reporters gasped… with glee at the opportunity of seeing these two, fight. But Moodswing wasn’t in the mood of betraying the one rule he had for the speedway: no fights – at all. Every and all issues were to be handled on what the racers called the blacktop: the asphalt racetrack.

“No, no, no!” said Moodswing with authority. “This is not what’s going to happen,” he said gaining a measure of control between them. “Here is what’s going to happen.” Moodswing was now speaking to the camera, the reporters as well as them. “You two are not going to ruin my feature race for the first Formula-X pay-per-view. You two are going to show what F-X is all about: leaving it all out there.” Moodswing pointed out the window, which stood over the speedway itself. “And you’re going to do it in a race, tonight!

Thorne and Solo smiled. So, they were going to get what they wanted: a chance to face each other tonight. Except that wasn’t the case as Moodswing proved his love for wrestling by finishing off his statement “… as partners in a relay race.” All Thorne could think was: what the hell is a relay race!?

 

LATER THAT NIGHT

Thorne nearly went flying into the barricade as he came around the backstretch bend at 120km/h. However, all Thorne could think about – besides the heat building inside his helmet – was whether Solo was impressed with what he was seeing. As Thorne balanced his car out on the straight, accelerating back to 200km/h, he checked his rearview mirror to see if Jim Kieck was still a car length behind him. It was important that he was so that when he made the handover to Solo, that Solo had enough breathing room to maintain the lead.

A relay race was one of the more unique races in Formula-X. It, combined relay running (or swimming) with the already established match racing of Formula-X. With two racers on each team, teammates would alternate laps until all 20 laps were completed. What made this type of race interesting was that typically, a racer on one team would continuously compete with the same racer on the other team (unless overlapped) and pit lanes are set up on both sides of the home stretch in order to have safe handovers between teammates.

As Thorne reentered his pit lane for the fifth time, he watched Solo exit his for the fifth. Just as Thorne’s lead had been transferred to Solo; Jim’s losing position was transferred to John Kloof. Thorne found that he hated John Kloof. He didn’t know whether it was because Kloof had had basically the same amount of success as him up to last week and yet was still more beloved than him? Or because Kloof was someone who serviced the cars of people like him yet stood on equal ground with him here in the Fuel Speedway.

Two more laps went by with Thorne and Solo maintaining their lead. That was until Lap 14 which saw Thorne and Solo mistime their handover causing Thorne to stall heading into Lap 15. A pissed off Thorne had to watch Jim Kieck fly around the speedway only managing to get his vehicle, The Devil’s Advocate up and running just before Kloof entered his 16th Lap. While the struggle to keep Kloof behind him was a futile mission considering all the lead time they’d loss, Thorne persisted, refusing to allow the mechanic to overtake him.

This is all Solo’s fault, thought Thorne. He was the one that did the bad switch. The only thing going through Thorne’s mind was the idea that he was going to have to hand this race back to him for their team’s 16th Lap. Feeling the pressure mounting, Thorne decided to throw caution to the wind and speed up around the bends, banking on the idea that Kloof would slow down (which he did) allowing him to break away. The dreaded moment came for the switch came which at least this time went off without a hitch.

To Solo’s credit and Thorne's absolute fury, the man known as The Franchise managed to close the gap allowing Thorne to into the 17th Lap with a chance to even the scoreboards. While Thorne raced around the track, frantically trying to catch up with “The Playboy”, all Thorne could think about was Solo’s nickname. “The Franchise”. How arrogant was this guy? Does he actually believe he’s the franchise of this series? Well he was about to find out how untrue that was.

While Thorne had done his level best, he hadn’t managed to catch up leaving Solo to try in Lap 18 but to no avail. Thorne made one final attempt to gain back the lead in the 19th but it was all in vain with more of the same for Solo in the 20th. Some dark part of Thorne wanted to smile. You see, Solo. You’re not that badass. You lost. But before Thorne could smile, he saw Solo take off his helmet and look proud. He was actually standing tall! Thorne had had enough and stormed over to his pit stall on the other side of the track.

“Well at least now we know who the weak link is,” said Thorne fuming.

But Solo barely registered that he was there. “And you think it was me?”

Thorne’s eyes nearly popped out of his skull. “Are you serious? You,” he was fuming so much he could barely form the words, “you’re the one who botched the switch. You lost the race.”

“How do you figure that, Impaler?” When Solo saw Thorne simply look at him in disbelief, he continued. “We were a team out there. That means we win together, we lose together. But everything is together, including holding the blame.”

“You son of a,” started Thorne, so angry he was unable to complete sentences. “That last lap was your responsibility. You were the one that was supposed to bring it home. If it had been me—”

“What!? Thorne,you were the one who wanted to start the race. Surely you knew that if you took the first lap, you’d take all the odd numbered laps. I mean, you do know how to count in even and odds numbers, right?”

Thorne had had enough. He as about to pounce but before he could, they both heard a commotion. Distracted from their own beef, Solo and Thorne turned to where the noise was coming from – the Winner’s Circle – just in time to see John Kloof shove Jim Kieck away as Jim claimed that he “wasn’t looking at her!”

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

Copyright © Copyright © 2020 by Sphu "Beesting" Kubheka
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