Remix: The Man in Black (The Buried Ideas Remix) [Yana, Chantho, 400 words, rated PG], by studyofrunning
When his progress on the rocket is not evident enough to inspire hope, and the ending universe represented by the black, starless sky seems too amorphous an obstacle to overcome, Professor Yana substitutes stories of a hero and villain from his own dreams. He gathers the children and tells them of a man in black who darkens skies and ends civilizations, and of Theta, the adversary, who is always able to fix what the man in black has done.
Yana wishes he were able to fix the rocket. In the back of his mind, he finds that comparison somehow unsettling. Merely fatigue, he decides. He drops his calculations and dreams.
The children ask if the man in black has a name.
"Yes," he replies, "of course he does," so they ask why he's the man in black. Yana thinks for a moment, then tells them that the names he uses are matters of perspective. "The man in black presents himself as a villain, black cape and all. Theta is a nickname the man in black used to use." He looks at Chantho, whose most memorable trait has become her name.
Chantho, like the children, wants to believe in the concrete hero and villain.
"Chan, is there really a Theta, tho?" She says this one evening as they work, tries to mention it like it's just idle curiosity. Yana hears hope and embarrassment in her voice. "Chan, you speak of him like an old friend, tho."
Oh, if only. "Theta would have made this infuriating thing work by now." Yana would like to believe that this scheme to bring everyone to Utopia is worthy of the clever Theta, but the rocket remains broken and he still waits for the inspiration he needs to fix it. He continues, "Probably just by hitting it and hoping. That was usually his style."
For a strange, fleeting moment he thinks, if Theta can do it, he can do it. The feeling isn't quite optimism. He hits part of the machinery with a hammer. Nothing happens.
He knew it wouldn't work. Something in the back of his mind is telling him, you are not Theta. Whatever you do, Theta will always be the adversary.
He sighs, and submits his failure to Chantho as proof that there is no Theta or man in black.
But Yana believes that his name must be meaningful to someone else, too.