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Sunday, January 16, 2011

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 doorwell.

“The Space Center has its own IT department but its 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 lose 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 darkest secrets to return to this doorwell 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
.
“They’re starting the Voyager Controls then?” Emily asked.
“Today,” Jon replied. “I think Mr. Williamson is going down there to meet with them after we all leave.”
“I’ll give him my art work 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.
“Well, I could tell they hadn’t seen the sun in a long time. Their skin is prison pallor white and slightly transparent. I could just see veins streaking like lightening across their cheeks and necks.”

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 he’d written “Good Luck” with a red pen.

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 hopped on my bike and peddled 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.

The school was quiet. It was weird. Usually the sound of explosions, music and kids shouting and screaming filled the vacuum. I took out the map, paused to get my bearings, and proceeded down the hallway - past the front doors and office.

I walked toward the Cafeteria and Faculty Room. The sound of my footsteps echoed off the brick walls. Needless to say I was spooked and terrified I'd get caught. But, as I wrote earlier, I am of a curious disposition.

There is was just like the map said. "Look for a hallway with ramp and Fallout Shelter sign".

I was curious why a Fallout Shelter sign was on the wall in the first place. Fallout Shelters disappeared from American's lexicon in the 1980's. Why was this sign still there? I also noticed the arrows pointing down the hallway were scratched away.

I turned and looked down the cold, dimly lit hallway. The air was thick, carrying a feeling of gloom. I was tempted to abandon my quest, but considering what I'd risked to get that far, I decided to soldier on. I started my descent down the ramp.

"Look for a door labeled 'Boiler Room'." the map said. "If you're willing to stare into the abyss then go through that door." There was nothing else written. It seemed the Supervisor abandoned his attempt to learn the truth at this point. He failed. I wouldn't. I had to go on.

I picked the lock and slowly opened the door. I was met by a concrete stairway descending down below the main level of the school, ending in a room illuminated by a single lightbulb. My heart raced. Sweat formed on my forehead.

"Hello," I said hoping there would be no response. There wasn't. I repeated my greeting. It was again met by silence. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," I mumbled and stepped into the mystery and down the stairway.

At the bottom of the stairs was another staircase.

It ended abruptly into a cinder block wall. I examined the wall. "Hypercard Department" was written in pencil on one of the blocks. I remembered the Voyager was programmed in Hypercard in 2000. The computer language hadn't been used since. Was this the home of the Hypercard programmers?

I knocked on the bricks and stepped back. I smiled thinking how absurd it was that I would even consider anyone could still be there, trapped behind that solid barrier. I turned to continue my explorations. It was then I heard the sound of someone or something scratching the brick from the opposite side of the wall from where I was standing. The sound was very faint and stopped as abruptly as it had started. Needless to say I was freaked out..

I moved on, finding these signs near a door that looked like it hadn't been opened in decades.

The room lit by the single bulb held the school's Boiler, just as described on the door in the hallway at the top of the staircase. I tapped my chest to calm my speeding heart and continued.

I entered the Boiler Room. It was strangely quiet. I thought the boiler would be working, considering it was a cold winter day outside. To my left I found another stairway ascending into blackness.

There was a sound. I quickly turned 180 degrees to face a stairway in the cornor of the room. There was whispering coming from the stairway. I froze. I don't know how long I stood there motionless like a deer in a car's headlights. It seemed like an eternity before I found the courage to step lightly and move forward.

The stairway led up to a landing before turning 90 degrees. I walked closer and paused. A couple gulps of air gave me the oxygen to move forward the last three steps to see what was at the top. I looked up and froze. I was sure I saw one eye peering at me from around the corner at the top of the landing. The eye and forehead vanished, leaving behind the sound of footsteps as whoever it was moved down what sounded like another concrete hallway.

I had a decision to make. Would I continue in my quest for the illusive IT department or cash in my lucky chips and leave?

TO BE CONTINUED........

Signed,
Your Friend
The Truth Will Prevail





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