Back in the day when I was Space Center director, I wrote short fanciful stories for the blog about life at the Space Center. Most were completely true, others were embellished with bits of fiction to make the read more interesting, and then there were others written just for fun, like the one below.
Today I repost one of those "just for fun" stories written in January 2011 to poke fun at the Center's programming and IT folks. I wrote it pretending to be a nosy new volunteer just learning the ropes. The story is illustrated with several photos taken in the school's hallways and basement. I darkened the photos for story's sake.
From The Troubadour's Archives
My Quest to Find the Space Center's IT Department. An Unauthorized Post......
From Space Center Wikileaks.
What "They" Don't Want You to Know.
I hacked into the Space Center's Blog to share the following with you all. Read quickly because it will be deleted as soon as 'you know who' discovers it.
I won’t give you my identity because it would risk my status as a volunteer and hopefully a future employee. Let’s just say I’m someone who happens to be of a curious nature when it comes to all things Space Center. I asked Mr. Williamson once about the computer programs running the simulators. He explained that the Voyager’s controls were written in Hypercard. The other simulators were using Revolution.
“Soon we will have our first set of Cocoa controls in the Galileo,” he added with a look of satisfaction.
I knew the Space Center was a unique institution, the only of its kind on the planet, so I was naturally curious about who wrote the programs if they weren't available commercially. Mr. Williamson looked surprised by my question and asked for my name (he has a tendency to forget my name but that’s OK, he’s busy and I’m just one of many faceless volunteers that darken the Space Center’s walls on a regular basis). I said my name and he promptly wrote it on a sticky note. Below my name he put a check mark with the words “Too Curious” scribbled in a manuscript barely legible. I pretended to hear someone call my name and lied about being called for an acting part. I walked away shaken by his reaction.
I found a blue shirt Supervisor who had befriended me in the past and asked him the same question. He said he would tell me what he knew but made me swear never tell anyone where I got the information. He took me by the elbow and walked me down the hall toward the Faculty Room. We stopped and stepped into a classroom’s doorway.
“The Space Center has its own IT department but it's kept hush hush. Only Mr. Williamson and his most senior staff know who they are and where they work. For your own survival as a volunteer, I suggest you never mention programming again. Let’s just say that loose lips sink volunteers and ships.”
He told me he knew a few other things and if I was really serious about learning one of the Space Center's best kept secrets to return to this doorway again after the last of the staff left the building after the 2:30 P.M. missions ended. He stepped from the doorway, looked up and down the hall, and walked quickly back toward the Odyssey.
One hour later I went to the Faculty Room to buy a soda. I heard people talking and stopped before anyone saw me. I peeked into the room. Emily, Stacy and Jon were huddled around the pop machine. I could barely make out what they were saying.
“Today,” Jon replied. “I think Mr. Williamson is going down there to meet with them after we all leave.”
“I’ll give him my artwork to take with him. They’ll need it,” Emily said.
“What are they like,” Jon asked. From the question I gathered that Stacy was the only one who had actually met someone from IT.
“You don’t want to know,” Stacy replied.
“Come on, tell us something,” Jon stepped closer into the huddle, bringing Emily with him.
I heard someone else approaching and knew it was time to step into the room to buy my soda. I cleared my throat and stepped in. The huddle immediately broke apart.
“What do you want?” Emily said perturbed.
“Just a soda,” I answered sheepishly. She motioned me forward. I stepped up to the coin receptacle, dropped in four quarters, made my selection and left as quickly as I could.
The flights ended at 5:00 P.M. I stayed behind pretending to be waiting for my ride. I hid in a classroom doorway and waited for Jon to leave. He is always the last to leave the Center on a Saturday. At 5:40 P.M. I heard the school's front doors latch shut. Jon was gone leaving only the custodian in the building mopping the floors in the new addition. I was alone in the old section. I walked back to the doorway where the supervisor and I had met earlier. There, taped to the door, was an envelope. I removed it and found a map of the school with detailed descriptions on how to get into the building when no one was there. Arrows pointed the way down the south hallway and into a section of the building I’d never seen. Under it was written “Good Luck” in red ink.
Today I woke with a determination to solve the mystery of the Space Center’s IT department. I faked sick to stay home from church. Once the family was gone I pedaled my bike the few miles to the school. I walked around the building once looking for cars. There were none. The building was empty.
I entered the school from the door I’d left partly ajar the night before.
"Hello," I said hoping there would be no response. There wasn't. I repeated my greeting. Again it was met by silence. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," I mumbled and stepped into the mystery and down the stairway.
I knocked on the bricks and stepped back. I smiled thinking how absurd it was that anyone could still be there, trapped behind that solid barrier. I turned to continue my explorations; then a sound..... a scratching sound from the other side of the cinderblock wall. The sound was faint and stopped as abruptly as it had started. Needless to say I was freaked out..
There was a sound in the corner of the room, a whisper coming from another long disused stairway. I froze for several seconds as I found the courage to continue my exploration.
I had a decision to make. Would I continue my quest for the illusive Space Center IT department or be grateful I made it this far and turn and go home.
TO BE CONTINUED........
The Truth Will Prevail