25th of April – Season 3
“What do you mean I have to go to Fuel tonight? I don’t even have a race. And don’t tell me that it’s to show my support for my fellow racers because I know that you don’t care.”
“You’re right. I don’t care about them. What I do care about is our craft.”
“What does me going to Fuel have to do with our craft?”
Blackcat opted to venture into romanticism when he answered. “When we first met two years ago, you begged me to teach you. You told me that you wanted to be strong and stand apart from anyone else. And I did because I saw something in you. Well today, that thing I saw in you has manifested itself in your graduation from apprentice spell-caster to full-blown spell-caster.”
I could not believe what I was hearing. “Are you serious?” My former Master nodded. This made me excited but my face changed when it occurred to me that I didn’t know what this meant. “So what does this mean?”
“It means that from now on, you won’t need my oversight with spells. Specifically, and importantly, you can now start writing your own spellbook.” This news elated me so much that I squeaked, but Blackcat made a point to bring me down to earth. “But before you can get to this level, there are two things we have to do. The first thing is that we have to officially pass the torch.”
Before I could ask what this meant, Blackcat switched off the lights, and then, seemingly out of thin air, Blackcat created a ball of blue light that levitated just above the palm of his hand. He then turned his hand towards me and I instinctively put my hands out and ‘caught’ the ball which also floated in my hands.
Just as I began investigating this amazing illumination, seconds away from touching it, Blackcat switched on the light and the ball disappeared and it was as if it wasn’t there. “Excellent,” said Blackcat. “Well done. You being able to handle that energy ball means you’re ready.”
However, I still wasn’t convinced of what just happened. Up until now, everything that we’d done, every spell, every charm could have been explained as luck. But surely, this proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that magic was real. But if that’s the case, where did that energy ball go when the lights came on? Does that mean it was an optical illusion? “What happened to the energy ball?”
Blackcat smiled. “That’s the same thing I asked my master when he put the lights on. Do you know what he told me?” I shook my head. “This craft that we practice is not designed to show off. People who don’t practice it are supposed to doubt it. They are supposed to continue believing that magic doesn’t exist and that we’re fools. That’s the only way that our secrets remain secrets. Now, it’s time to move on to the second thing.”
“And what would that be?”
“Simple: you have to conduct your own spell.”
LATER AT THE FUEL SPEEDWAY
When we’d arrived at the Fuel Speedway, I was genuinely excited to begin my first solo spell only for Blackcat to tell me that I couldn’t just conduct any kind of spell willy-nilly and that we still had to follow the plan that he’d already set out for rest of the season. My heart had sunk at that moment because it had just become clear that not much was going to change. Blackcat was still going to tell me what to do.
“A Spell of Doom?”
Blackcat nodded. “Yes. We need to help put an end to the reign of Doris and Teresa Koek.”
This news surprised me even though it shouldn’t have. After all, had we not stood together with Dime during his crusade to revolutionize the Relay Division. And one of the ways we had discussed doing this was to get the titles off of the Koeks. So as much as I didn’t like being told what spells to do, I couldn’t help but feel like this was a perfect first spell.
So I smiled, indicating my approval. “I like the sound of that.”
Blackcat smiled as well. “Good. So, do you remember what a Spell of Doom encompasses?”
I nodded proudly. “The Fall of the Hero; the Love of a Stranger; and the Mark of Darkness.” While the Master Spell-Caster gushed over his student and how far I’d come, I pulled out the racecard and gritted my teeth. “Well, whatever we do, we’ll have to do it fast because Thawn and Savana are facing the Koeks first tonight.”
Blackcat lost his smile and confirmed the racecard. “Well, we can’t have that. I’ll tell you what: let me go and talk to Glen about changing the order of these races while you go determine the participants.”
Once again, I was blown away by what I was hearing. “What? By myself?”
He nodded. “Maybe this way, you won’t make a mistake like you did last time.” When I rolled my eyes, he continued. “But don’t worry. When you pick participants for a spell by yourself, there’s zero chance of creating disasters like the last one. Alone, you either hit or miss.”
“If that’s the case, then why didn’t you do the last spell by yourself?”
“Because spells have a higher chance of success with two people, assuming they can coordinate. Now go, get to work. Go find a hero that’s fallen from grace.”
THE FALL OF THE HERO
Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long to find my first participant in the spell. Darcy ‘The Diamond’ Stevens: a hero to all young girls who wanted to drive fast cars for a living one day. And now those young girls would have to face the fact that their beloved Stevie was once in an underground motorsport league. This had all gotten revealed by Number One Claimant to the Formula-X Crown, Deak de Villiers in an exclusive interview where he’d promised to reveal secrets about the ‘Era Before’.
“The Diamond and I, we go way back, way back,” explained Deak in that menacing gravelly voice of his. “Let’s kick this off right and open with a statement: Darcy Stevens was part of the ‘Era Before’. She was in as deep as the rest of us. I’m surprised she’s so tight-lipped about it because if memory recalls, she became Queen in her day. Oh yes, I remember it clear as day, now. In fact, I remember her crystal clearly: this wet behind the ears gearhead wannabe who thought she could hang with the best.
“I believe she was a teenager when she first showed up. A sixteen-year-old girl who wanted to hang with the badasses rather than get herself a pimply-faced boy to play with. Yeah, that’s your Queen. It’s just unfortunate that I never got to race her since she didn’t get to my level until after I left for tertiary.”
While most found this disturbing, I was smiling inside because it was the perfect way to kick off the spell. Now it was time to find the second participant.
THE LOVE OF A STRANGER
I’d begun to panic when Monday Night Fuel officially kicked off only to see that the Relay Title race had been switched with a 3-Way race to determine the next challenger for the Duke of Drag title between JVZ, Touch Mkhize, and Styles Sithole. This meant that I had three more races to get the other participants.
Unfortunately, I was distracted from my task when I was joined by a man who had half his face painted. “I should have been in this race.”
“I thought you already had a race, Dime. In fact, the next one.”
“That’s no excuse for keeping me from my Duke of Drag title.”
I rolled my eyes. “You just want it all, don’t you? The drag titles; the relay titles…”
“No,” he said suddenly. “No. My beef with the Relay Baronesses and everyone in the division is that they’re letting down the division. It’s not about the titles as much as it’s about making those titles mean something. And that’s what I intend to prove by knocking over Brenda tonight. That’s professional. But this race; being in this race and going on to capture my second drag title, now that’s something I want for personal reasons.”
While I had been listening when Dime had started talking, I’d checked out when he turned what he was saying into one of his many rants about the relay division. Instead, my eye had caught Jim Kieck across the paddock, who himself was supposed to be listening to his relay partner John Kloof talking, but was distracted by a letter. Jim also had a rose in his hand indicating that the letter had been sent to him by one of his rosebuds.
Dime noticed that I had checked out of what he was saying and followed my gaze. “Oh, it looks like loverboy has gotten another letter from his number one fan.”
“Jim is getting letters from his fans now?”
Dime scoffed. “More like his stalker. Rumor has it that he’s actually met the woman when she cornered him in his own restaurant and hit on him, hard. There’s a debate as to whether he slept with her or not but what we all know is that he did blow her off and she’s been sending his letters ever since.”
“Hmm. Well, he sure does seem to like whatever she said in that letter.” While Dime did respond, I didn’t hear anything he said because it dawned on me that I had my second participant: Jim’s stalker.
THE MARK OF DARKNESS
While Styles had won the opening race and Dime had won the second race (with Blackcat deciding to join him in the pit lane to show his support), John Kloof and Jim Kieck lost which did make me worry for a second about my spell. But Blackcat had reassured me that winning was not important. But he did give me advice on the last participant.
“Now remember, the mark of darkness has to be something despicable, bordering on disgusting.”
“How the hell am I going to find that here?”
Blackcat shrugged. “I don’t know but the title race is next so you better hope that the next segment has something you can use.” Blackcat then walked away, seemingly giving me the space that I needed to do what I needed to.
I held my breath as the next segment came on and it was a Plain Jane interview. While I knew that Jane had the potential to be rude, I still had to wait and see if she could be dark. “After what Penny said last week, I just felt compelled to respond here tonight. Penny talked about maybe coming back, maybe not, maybe this, maybe that. And I for one have had enough of this maybe. Just retire then.”
There was a chorus of boos as Plain Jane settled into her interview, speaking directly into the camera. “No seriously. Maybes aside, I think you should retire because you are no longer the strong woman that you used to be. Now, you’re nothing but a coward. You should be ashamed of yourself.
“You claim that you’re not getting your op because of the impact the revolution had on your fans or whatever? But I think it’s because you’re trying to cash in on their sympathy while you sit at home on your BACKSIDE!” The boos that erupted were deafening as no one was happy. No one but me! I had all the ingredients. It was now time for the spell.
AFTER MONDAY NIGHT FUEL
When Savana had crossed the finish line first in the twentieth and final lap, I was elated. The spell had worked and Thawn and Savana were the new Relay Baron and Baroness. While I had no love for the pair, I did like their mission statement which was to make the titles feel important and do so by acting like royalty. But I barely had time to enjoy my success when Blackcat revealed that he got us an interview with Toney Kunene where he made a point to steal the spotlight.
"After tonight, I am proud to announce that my apprentice, Fiona is no longer an apprentice but a bona fide spell-caster as it was her that developed the spell that lead to the doom of the Koeks."
I don't know whether it was because of how he said it or whether I just grew a conscious but I suddenly felt bad. So when Toney turned to me, I became defensive. "Look, I'm sorry that it had to be them but what we did was necessary for the good of the Relay Division." It was at this point that it all went to hell, ironically marked by the appearance of the devout eldest Koek.
"Wow, I’ve never seen two people so full it in my life," said Brenda. "Well if you’re insistent that you’re the reason that we lost our titles tonight, then I guess me and my sisters ought to do something about that. We challenge you, Blanket," she said pointing at Blackcat, "and Dime to a three-on-three race at Speedom Day.”
While I didn't like being shown up, I had to admit that I liked the idea of this race. After all, wouldn't it be fitting that the Koeks fell to their own hand rather than be a spell? Aside from that, they were on the 'Highway to the Grand Prix' which meant this was the time to prove yourself.