An essay by Ekaterina Serafimevna Poponova, as provided by Blake Jessop
Art by America Jones
Week 3: Vĕdma Magiyatogorsk VS Schwarzwald Werwölfe
“Cut inside her, Ilona!” I scream, and no one listens. My teammate soars around the oval track in a flat arc, visible only from the waist up in the giant clay mortar that all Russian witches use to fly. Her coarse witch’s cloak billows like a sail before the wind as she leans into the turn. I glance up at the scoreboard. Down by fifteen.
Ilona is a great witch, but she isn’t really built for speed. If I were in charge, she’d be a blocker, not the pivot. I would be the pivot.
Ilona flies her mortar with grim determination, trying to find a way past the howling pack of German werewolves. Schwarzwald Werwölfe has the most disciplined blockers in the entire Champions League, and there’s no way they’re going to let Ilona slip past. The rules of the sport I have devoted my life to are simple; if my scorer circles the track more often than yours, I win. You use your blockers to try to stop me, and my pivot calls the plays. Add every style of magic on Earth to the cauldron, however, and the recipe gets complicated.
The Germans lope around the huge oval with the confidence of supreme hunters. The giant wolves shift amongst each other to stop the rest of my coven from breaking through. The traditional clay mortar is fast, but about as aerodynamic as a giant tea-cup. Most of the rest of Russian magic involves curses and bad luck, so Ilona is out of options.
“We’re never getting off the bench, “I say, slumping back as the Germans finish another lap in the lead. Ivan Maximov, our coach, is stretching the seams of his expensive American suit and screaming at the referee for failing to punish some penalty that exists only in his mind.
“You never know, Katya,” Anton says. My brother is an incurable optimist, and he’s had to be. He is the first man to ever earn promotion to Magiyatogorsk’s senior team. People look at him the way they look at boys who prefer dance class to ice hockey. No one likes to see a man doing women’s work, and in Russia, magic has always been a definitively female profession.
Can she not see how her scorn harms other women in her profession, how it harms me? We should be supporting each other, holding each other, as closely as possible.
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2020 collection.
Ekaterina Serafimevna Poponova (b. July, 1990) is a Russian witch who plays pivot for the Vĕdma Magiyatogorsk professional wizarding team. She is the elder sister of 2019 MCL rookie of the year Anton Poponov, and a finalist for the Marie Laveau coach of the year award. Known for her crafty and innovative style of play, Poponova is sponsored by Adidas, the Red Army, and Uncle Vlado’s Top Notch Pierogis.
Blake Jessop (b. September, 1980) is a Canadian author of science fiction, fantasy and horror stories with a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Adelaide. He has covered the International Sport Magic circuit as a journalist for many years, and you can keep up with all of the latest inside scoops on Twitter @everydayjisei.
America is an illustrator and comic artist with a passion for neon colors and queer culture. Catch them being antisocial on social media @thehauntedboy.
“The 2019 Magiyatogorsk Champions League Scrapbook: Selected Excerpts” is © 2019 Blake Jessop
Art accompanying story is © 2019 America Jones