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Fuel Season 2: Episode 1 – Amandla's Rebellion

Series: Stories of the Fuel Speedway

The stars of Monday Night Fuel are back but not all is sunshine and roses as a dark cloud looms...

Monday Night Fuel is weekly sports opera that follows the lives of the Formula-X racers who try to balance their growing popularity with their personal lives using their incredible driving skills.

7th of September – Season 2

FEATURE RACE – 21:17

Vooossh! John Kloof could barely hear himself breathing over the sound of his engine firing on all cylinders. He took a chance and let his eyes dart to his opponent’s vehicle which was keeping pace next to him. The intensity was real as they both sped around the bends of the racetrack at 200km/h. There was no mistaking it: this was a dangerous sport. But dammit, John would have it no other way. He loved life in the fast lane. And there was no lane faster than the Fuel Speedway.

Unfortunately, after the three-month break between Season 1 and 2, the day John had been waiting for was not the homecoming he’d hoped. It had started out quite alright back at the garage when he’d closed up for the day…

 

BEFORE FUEL – 18:30

John had just finished up with his last client for day (and the last car he could spend all day on now that he’d be splitting his time between work and racing) when Debra pulled up to pick him up. Debra wore a smile on her face. She knew how excited he was and she was excited for him. But neither of them was as excited as their 12-year-old, Cassie.

“Daddy, Daddy! It’s time, it’s time.”

“Yes it is, sweetie. Did you remember to bring it?”

She nodded excitedly. “Mmhmm. Your helmet is in the car.”

“Cas, remember it’s not a helmet. It’s a Crown.” John couldn’t in good conscience fault her for forgetting. After all, Formula-X was the only motorsport where their top prize was an expensive 18 karat gold helmet called a Crown. But ever since winning the Crown at The Formula-X Grand Prix back in May, he tried to teach Cassie the proper terminology.

“Right. I mean, your Crown. Now c’mon, Daddy.”

Cassie then grabbed his hand and led him to the car where Debra greeted him with a kiss. John had taken note of how much happier Debra was these days. And why shouldn’t she be? Becoming Formula-X King had not only come with the promise of a bigger paycheck per race, but his success on the Fuel Speedway had also resulted in an increase in business for his mechanic day job with his new clients relishing the idea of having their cars fixed by a racing champion.

“So,” said Debra, “I’ve been checking the Formulary all day and it seems you’re going to have your work cut out for you.”

The Formulary was one of Formula-X’s newest creations: a social media network that was some unholy lovechild between Facebook and Instagram, allegedly created by Moodswing who wanted to avoid licensing problems. It allowed the F-X racers to post their thoughts (written, photographed or video-taped) and for fans (who were signed members) to comment on them. Although, it was obvious that Moodswing created it as yet another means to create drama between the racers to fuel more rivalries.

John already had an idea what she was going to say. “Amandla’s Rebellion.”

“Amandla’s Rebellion,” she repeated, in confirmation.

John sighed before deciding he didn’t want to talk about it. “You know what, let’s enjoy this while we still can,” he said referring to time with his family. “I’ll worry about that when I get to the Speedway.”

 

FEATURE RACE

As John edged ahead of his opponent, he tried to keep his head about himself, but he struggled. All he could think about was what Debra read on the Formulary: Amandla’s Rebellion. Amandla’s Rebellion (which was purposefully named as such even though it was grammatically incorrect in both English and Zulu) had started the moment John won the F-X Crown from Mandla Xulu at The Formula-X Grand Prix. While it started quietly enough that it had barely registered at the event, over the winter, as the Formulary grew in popularity with the fans (now called “the fandom”), the Rebellion grew with many wanting Mandla back on the throne.

Thinking about the rebellion distracted John enough for his opponent to take advantage and overtake him. John heard the roar of the crowd which got to him, feeling like it was their way of saying they didn’t want him and would support anyone put in front of him. But John sucked it up, convincing himself that their cheers weren’t against him but for his opponent who was one of the most popular racers in the series in his own right. Fortunately, John had played his own mind games with him before their race. If only those were the only games on John’s mind…

 

ARRIVING AT FUEL – 19:30

The moment they got to the Old Airport, John knew that reality had set in and Amandla’s Rebellion was not just an online/winter break thing. Right there in front of the front entrance under the FUEL SPEEDWAY sign was a large group of people dressed in green, holding up signs singing in Xhosa. John knew who they were and why they were there.

Fortunately, he was F-X King now which meant he had special privileges, one of which would allow him to avoid subjecting his daughter to avid fans eager to make their voices known at his expense. After being dropped off right inside the paddock by his family, John was overwhelmed by how happy he was to be back at the Fuel Speedway.

“It’s like Harry Potter returning to Hogwarts, isn’t it?” John turned to find Brenda Koek giving him a smile.

“Yeah, if this was Order of the Phoenix,” said John smiling back at Brenda. “How you doing, Brenda? Holidays treat you alright?

“I feel like I should be asking you that. Me, I had to deal with my sisters teasing me all winter about that damn kiss. You, on the other hand, had to deal with an entire Rebellion.”

“I’m sure our King managed,” said a familiar face, interrupting John’s response.

John smiled at the man known as ‘The Cryptic Crusader’. “Styles. Man, is it good to see you. How were your holidays?”

Styles scoffed. “Holidays? Uthini lo? Bra, I’ve been training. These weren’t holidays for me. And I’m happy to say that The Cursed Conundrum is better than ever. In fact, I’ve just spoken to Glen and guess who’s in a race where the winner will challenge the Duke of Drag for the title at Arbour Games?”

John knew the answer as did Brenda whose eyes bulged open. “Wait, what? How did you swing that? I wanna challenge Touch too.”

“All I did was ask,” said Styles. He then pointed to Glen across the paddock. “Glen is busy now sorting out the racecard.”

“Well, who’s your opponent. Maybe there’s still hope.”

Styles shook his head. “Sorry sisi. I already have an opponent. And you’re not going to like who it is.”

“As long as it’s not the freakin’ Playboy, I’m fine with it.”

“Actually, Jim Kieck is your opponent tonight. Glen wanted to give you another chance to beat him. You know, after he humiliated you at the Grand Prix.”

“Losing to him was not humiliating.”

“Well I was talking about the kiss afterwards.” Both Styles and John watched Brenda blush. “You’re not, like, into him, are you?”

“What? Of course not. Just,” she said, now with beet red cheeks, “leave me alone.” She then started away from them, leaving John alone with Styles.

“So,” said Styles to John, “technically this is your first Fuel after winning the title and you know what that means: you’re getting coronated tonight.”

Wrong!” The person that had so rudely interrupted them was none other than the host of the now-renamed Touching Base talk show, Touch Mkhize. “I’m sorry to tell you that you’re not getting coronated tonight,” said the smug Duke of Drag.

“What are you talking about, Touch,” said Styles. “I saw the racecard and it said right there under opening segment: The Formula-X King’s Coronation.”

“Well take it from someone who – as the host of Fuel’s first and only talk show – has the inside track on the night’s latest schedule, His Highness’s Coronation has been set aside for an address by one Mandla Xulu.”

“Mandla’s making an address?” asked John. “Why?”

“Amandla’s Rebellion.” Just as Touch had spoken the words, the title sequence music boomed on all the speakers as all eyes turned to the big screens to see Monday Night Fuel come onto the air. Just as Touch had said, Mandla opened the show by going to middle-stage to the sound of praise songs being sung by Mandla’s supporters in green. Mandla quickly addressed the unrest in the fandom and asked that they remember that at the end of the day, the racers were there to entertain them. Mandla successfully managed to quell any lingering unrest by announcing that Moodswing had just sanctioned the feature race of Arbour Games: a return race between himself and King Kloof.

Styles could almost feel John’s mood as he watched him clench his jaw at the news. “It looks like you now know when your first title defence will be.”

However, that wasn’t what was on John’s mind at the moment. Instead, John couldn’t help but feel slanted by Mandla. It wasn’t just that he took the spot on the racecard that was rightfully his now. It was also the fact that he was acting like he was still King. And the fandom was treating him like he was still King. While John could understand why the unrest needed to be quelled, it was still important that he be treated like a King. The title needed to carry that respect else it meant nothing.

John looked over at the still smug Touch suddenly eager to punch him. But there were serious rules against that. Fortunately, there was another way of sorting out issues on Monday Night Fuel that was not only allowed but encouraged. And if he couldn't have the opening spot, then he was damn sure going to have the closing spot.

 

FEATURE RACE

As John fought to regain his lead position in the race, he thought about the makings of this race. While it hadn’t taken much to get Touch in the feature race (as Moodswing loved the idea of a monarch vs. monarch race for the premiere of Season Two), it had taken a little more to work out the psychology of the race: how he was going to get into Touch’s head. As it turned out, all he needed was a friend.

After successfully winning his race against Penny Potgieter, Styles marched right into the Winner’s Circle and proceeded to call Touch an immature child. From that moment, John knew what he needed to do to get a psychological edge and proceeded to use reverse psychology on Touch moments before their own race. Perhaps that’s what was going through Touch’s mind when John successfully regained the lead and captured the win.

 

AFTER FUEL – 21:55

By the time John walked out through the concourse and out the front entrance, most of the fans had already left. He’d asked Debra to fetch him half an hour after Fuel ended so he expected the racer’s parking lot to be empty. But it wasn’t. There was one car still there and someone standing in front of it…

“What are you doing by Styles’ car?”

“He offered me a ride. While Solo’s away, he needed someone to carpool with—”

“And he asked you?”

Mandla sighed. “These aren’t the questions you want to be asking me, surely?”

“No,” said John honestly. But John didn’t need to ask them.

“I didn’t do it for you. Quelling that crowd,” he explained, “that wasn’t for your benefit.”

“I know. You did it for you. What, to show me that you’re the rightful King?”

Mandla nodded. “And this is my kingdom.”

This time John sighed. “And here I thought you only did these macho confrontations in front of the Winner’s Circle. Where the people can see you. Because that’s what you’re about, isn’t it? Making yourself look good in front of your people?”

This clearly irked Mandla who got in John’s face. “Be careful now, Kloof. Racism doesn’t look good on you. And it’s not really becoming of a King.”

“That’s not how I meant it and you know that.”

“I know. I also know that this island is a paradise that knows no colour. But, it needs me as Formula-X King, not you. So, mark my words, Kloof, that title is coming back to me.”

John responded just as Mandla turned away. “Consider them marked. And Mandla,” he said just as his rival walked away, “it’s King Kloof to you.”

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 © All stories are Copyright © 2016-2020 by S.T. Kubheka (also known by the pseudonym Bernard "Beesting" Bayede). ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This story or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

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