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Fuel Season 1: Episode 7: Burning Bridges

On Monday Night Fuel, friendships die hard and betrayals are a way of life...

The Relay Race: a contest designed to test the strength of partnership built solely on the foundation of team work. "This ain't no tag team match... this is a team sport." – Glenwood Jacobs

14th of October – Season 1

Penny Potgieter had never really had many friends. She never needed them. Growing up, people had come to call these ‘trust issues’ as she never seemed to find ones that she could get along with, at least after a while. One way or another something would part them, bring them to differences of opinion, have them not see eye to eye.

Instead, Penny had colleagues, co-workers, acquaintances. It was this mindset that led her to going into business for herself as an Events Organizer. It was this mindset that allowed her to thrive as a businesswoman. And it was this mindset that led her to Monday Night Fuel. She always looked for opportunities that didn’t involve relying on other people and investing in their input. So, when she was teamed together with Brenda Koek a few weeks ago at the first Formula-X pay-per-view called Arbour Games, Penny wasn’t a very happy person.

Unfortunately, as Penny had experienced going through life, it was difficult doing things completely on your own – hence the colleagues, co-workers and acquaintances. As such, Penny sucked up her pride and did her best to form something of a successful relay team with her. But it was to no avail. After team losses and individual losses to Longitude and Latitude, Penny had had quite enough. It was time for a change.

Unfortunately, when it came to making changes after a friendship or partnership fell through, Penny had loads of experience... and none of it was good. Currently, Penny was standing just inside the entrance of the Fuel Speedway, waiting nervously for someone’s arrival. What was about to happen was going to be a big deal. And with Monday Night Fuel having a thing for turning small arguments into huge rivalries, Penny had every expectation that this could go bad, very fast.

Lucky enough, Penny had something of an angel on her side as she smiled seeing him approach. Glenwood Jacobs, the Vice President of the F-X Racing Club and co-showrunner alongside Moodswing. While Moodswing might be the boss, it was well known amongst the racers that Glen was the glue that held the place together. It was him she had told first about her decision regarding her teammate, Brenda. And he had supported her decision.

“Hey Penny. What are doing standing by the door?”

“I’m waiting for them to arrive,” she said. As if on cue, the large sliding doors opened and the absolute last person that Penny wanted to see walked through the doors.

Brenda eyed them suspiciously. “Hey guys, what are you doing standing by the door?”

Glen looked from Penny, to Brenda, realized something then looked back at Penny. “You haven’t told her?”

Penny stiffened her jaw. “It’s easier this way.”

“Easier for whom?” he said. But Glen saw the defiant look in her eyes. “C’mon, Penny. He arrives tonight. You want her to find out like this?”

Brenda looked at them confused. “Find out about what? What’s going on guys?”

Just then, the doors opened again and none other than Terrance ‘Moodswing’ Moodley walked through the doors. But it was the person who he was with that got Penny’s attention. He had arrived. But he had walked in with Moodswing which meant things were about to get so much worse. Moodswing always had this way of stirring the pot. And he proved it with his first words.

“Her new relay teammate.” Moodswing looked at her new teammate as he spoke the words. The man had an excellent posture which did well to show off that he worked out. He had a fair complexion and short curly hair but wasn’t all that tall as he stood at Penny’s height. He went by a single name: Dime.

Brenda gave the man a look before turning to Penny. “You’re replacing me?”

“We’re not a good match, Brenda. I think this is the best thing. I’m sorry.”

“You’re sorry?” said the upset Brenda. “You’re sorry!?” she said, now getting angry. “What, for screwing me over or for not telling me!?” Brenda suddenly lunged at Penny but Glen and Moodswing, having anticipated this, stepped between them and made sure neither laid a hand on each other lest they got themselves suspended.

“Hey!” shouted Glen, who managed to stop them from shoving him. There was always something commanding about his voice. “Now you two know the rules: everything is handled on the asphalt. Now if you two want to go at each other, then you do it there.”

“Then let’s do it. Sanction the race and let me show this backstabbing wench what a big mistake she made!” As Brenda spoke the words, Penny nodded eagerly, gesturing that she approved only for them both to be blindsided by Moodswing.

“No.” Moodswing was smiling as he said this single word. In fact, he had been smiling while Glen was busy trying to get the women under control. When he saw everyone including Glen looking at him confused, he repeated himself. “No. You guys aren’t going to race tonight.”

“Why the hell not?” said Brenda.

“Because from here on out, all the races are about hyping up the next P.P.V.: Hallow’s Eve. That’s why we’re having that ‘enemies unite’ relay race in the feature race tonight and that’s why Penny here, will be taking on Longitude in a match race. It’s to hype up the race that she and her new partner Dime will have against Longitude and Latitude for the Relay Baron or Baroness,” he said looking at Penny, “titles.” Moodswing smiled.

Barons and Baronesses, thought Penny wanting to roll her eyes. Penny had been one of the racers that had not understood the combining of wrestling with formula one when Moodswing had first explained it. But, over the past six weeks, she now got it. The combination of soap opera drama with motorsport was highly entertaining. The sadist in Penny had to admit that there was something intriguing about watching John Kloof and Jim Kieck rival over a married woman. However, the one thing she still didn’t get was the royal theme concept that Moodswing had going on with the titles. What, he’s a Game of Thrones fan too? What was wrong with calling them championships?

“Fine,” said Brenda, accepting that she wouldn’t be getting a piece of Penny. She then looked at Dime. “What about him? I noticed you didn’t say anything about him having a race.”

Moodswing looked at Dime, curiously. He then thought, animatedly. “Interesting. What do you say, new guy? A baptism by fire?”

Dime looked from Moodswing to Glen to Penny then to Brenda before looking back at Moodswing. “I love it.”

Moodswing smiled. “Good. Then we have our opening contest for the night. Go get ready.” As Moodswing watched Penny and Dime walk towards the paddock, Penny overheard Moodswing talk to Glen. “I think he’ll be right at home here.”

 

LATER THAT NIGHT

Penny watched from the pit lane as the two race cars sped around the speedway. She was impressed with what she saw as Dime clung to the inside lane, keeping Brenda in his rear-view mirror. As Penny watched, she quietly assessed the man she’d chosen as her new relay partner. The decision had been clinical. She hadn’t based it on character, personality or gender. She simply wanted someone who was fast. She’d gotten lucky in getting Dime the job as when she spoke to Glen, he’d told her that he’d just finished discussing adding another racer to the roster with Moodswing.

Looking at him go now, Penny was pleased. They were 5 laps through their 10-lap race when Brenda finally managed to overtake. However, Dime did not lose his head and managed to stay close – even managing to draft her – before managing to take the lead back and secure the win. Penny smiled as this victory proved that she had not made a mistake.

In the Winner’s Circle, after the race, Dime was given his first opportunity to speak and Penny was pleased with how he answered his first question about becoming an F-X racer.  “Well it wasn’t easy as it takes more than just skill to be here on Monday Night Fuel. You also have to have something to say; an attitude. If it wasn’t for Penny, I would still be looking for somewhere to showcase my skills.” In the same interview, Dime revealed the name of his vehicle: The Silverback Nickel which he said he’d purposely named as a nod to Penny’s vehicle: The Dollar Coin.

While Penny had enjoyed his post-victory interview, she was admittedly worried that Dime’s praise of her and him naming his vehicle something similar to hers may give the F-X reporters and whoever else the impression that they were intimate. That could not be further from the truth. The truth was, Penny valued winning more than she valued dating. And she wanted to win those new Relay Baron and Baroness titles.

That was the reason that after Dime’s race against Brenda and Penny’s race against Longitude, they’d stayed at the Fuel Speedway to build a strategy for working together. They’d also stayed because they wanted to watch another relay race and see if there was anything to learn. The feature race of the night was as big as Moodswing had promised: King Thawn and Solo Magubane vs. Touch Mkhize and Darcy Stevens.

Moodswing had been right about ‘enemies unite’. There was as much love lost between the teams as there was between the teammates. But as Penny and Dime watched, they realized that the two teams worked well as a unit as both sides wanted to win just as much as they wanted to show their partners how it was done. In the end, the Formula-X King and the Number One Claimant, ‘The Franchise’, Solo Magubane took the win leaving Touch and the Diamond in the Rough playing the blame game.

When the night eventually came to an end, Penny and Dime started to leave when Dime remembered that he’d left something and hurried back inside, leaving Penny standing by the entrance as the capacity crowd that had come to watch their favorite weekly sports opera live, passed her on their way out. As the crowd passed by, Penny glanced up and noticed Brenda on the other side of the entrance, looking at her.

Brenda seemed to have calmed down some since the start of the evening but was nowhere near happy. “You’re going to realize that you made a mistake, you know that right? Replacing me with him.”

“The only thing I made, Brenda,” responded Penny just as calmly, “was an adult decision.”

Brenda took this in but continued. “It’s one thing if he beats me. But you and I,” she pointed at Penny, “we’re destined to meet on that racetrack.”

Penny smiled a somewhat sympathetic smile. “No, we’re not.” She saw that Brenda didn’t get it. “Brenda, you seem to think that this is the start of some sort of rivalry between us. It’s not. You don’t believe me?” Penny gestured around. “Where are the cameras? Face it, Moodswing is not interested in us, Brenda. The pair of us, we’re old news. Whether we’re teaming together or facing each other. All I did, was find a way to make myself relevant.”

Before Brenda could say another word, Dime returned and the two of them were on their way. Despite Penny having conviction in her decision, believing she did the right thing, she couldn’t help but feel sorry for Brenda. After all, she hadn’t done anything wrong. Penny had simply decided to move on. She knew that anyone else would have said she burnt a bridge. And the truth was, she had. Except that, she had also built a new one in its place.  Penny didn’t need friends. But at this rate, she was bound to start making enemies.

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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