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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mr. Williamson, Fortuna and the Boggart. A Story of Misfortune and Redemption.

Fortuna
Pleasing to the Eye. A Blessing and Curse to One's Fortunes.


The Night

"Looketh how he lay at peace with his fortunes."

"Tis good fair lady. This is the third moon of their gathering."

"Three moons and yet not a thought for the good fortune bestowed. Would you not see such behavior as ingratitude?"

"Fair Lady, this human has toiled through many hardships brought on by your hand. Wouldn't it be an act of godly grace that he be given a season of peace and tender mercy?"

"And let his arrogance go unpunished? I am Fortuna, the Goddess of Fortune. I bless and curse. I love and hate. I reward and punish. Mortals are as fickle as the changing seasons. In times of trial they cry out for solace and in times of abundance they forget and cast us aside as fable and superstition."

"How then has this one sleeping upon the floor on a shallow pad neglected you? I see no evidence. Might my Fair Lady find herself on the cusp of boredom? Perhaps you seek sport and find him competent for the challenge?"

"Careful little one. You occupy this position because of my benevolence."

"I seek my Lady's forgiveness."

"Granted. Now to sport. The suns comes to dispel the night and I fear the Great Zeus might be upon us when he wakes. Zeus has one true weakness, his fondness for these fragile mortals."

"You too, like the Great Zeus, have given great fortunes to many a mortal Fair Lady. How do you and the Great Zeus differ?"

"I dispense and withdraw fortune as randomly as the rain falls. Zeus trusts in emotion's council when deciding who to reward and who to punish. His heart is too large and his mind too weak. It will one day be his undoing."

"Look the mortal stirs. His boat passes through the fog separating dream from actuality."

"Then let us be quick. Take my Rod and step through the boundary separating us. Be clever with what you touch, remembering that Zeus will awaken soon. I fear this mortal's cry may disturb the solitude of Olympus if the misfortunes you dispense on my behalf are too great a burden for his soul."

"Your wishes are my command Fair Lady."

A Boggart. Never to be trusted. Always a Nuisance.

The Boggart stepped through the boundary and onto the Briefing Room's carpet. Mr. Williamson slept at his feet, not knowing Fortuna had once again found him in need of her attentions. The Boggart raised the Rod then slowly moved it toward Mr. Williamson's arm laying motionless off the sliver of a mattress. Fortuna spoke from behind air's shadow, warning him that such foolishness would bring the wrath of Zeus. The Boggart hesitated, then stepped back - wanting to disobey but feared his Lady's wrath.

He found the doorway leading to the Voyager. He found the Voyager's control room. The black electrical box on the wall intrigued him. He knew little of human engineering but knew that the metal switches protruding from the box carried great importance. He held forth the Rod and touched one of the switches. Sparks ignited, showering the control room in light. He felt his Lady's pleasure.

"What is this," the Boggart sneered. A computer router's flashing blue lights caught his attention.
"Pond Fairies?" he questioned. "I despise Pond Fairies?"
He held out the Rod to touch the router's plastic shell. Upon contact, the Rod glowed a deep dark red, melting a small portion of the plastic.

"You've done well Boggart, now one more and be quick about it. I feel Zeus awakening," Fortuna whispered from the land mere mortals see only from the corner of their eyes.

The Boggart struggled with the weight of his Fair Lady's Rod as he climbed the stairs onto the Voyager's Bridge.

"Zeus awakens - return through the Boundry." Fortuna extended her hand through the barrier to retrieve her Rod and Boggart.

The Boggart turned to leave, then saw something that turned his slushy blood to ice. He saw his reflection staring back at him in the black plastic of the Security Station. He recoiled in horror. Everyone knows that Boggarts can go mad when confronted with the hideousness of their natural appearance. He touched the plastic with the Rod in an attempt to shatter the reflection. Fortuna's hand grabbed the Rod just as it touched the plastic. A small crack formed.

"We are finished with him," Fortuna pulled the Rod and its attached Boggart back through the Boundary. The mortal world at the Space Center was again normal.

The Morning

At 9:15 A.M. Josh A. appeared in front of my desk. I was answering emails.

"Mr. Williamson, the toggle switch turning off and on the Voyager's white lights broke off. We can't turn the normal lights on at all. What do we do?"

Mr. Williamson's heart sank. Everything was going so well. It was day four of their long Ultimate Camp. He was hoping the whole thing would end without an upset.

"Why now Fortuna," Mr. Williamson mumbled under his breath. He told Josh to tell Casey to finish the mission on red alert lights. After the End of Camp Staff Meeting, Mr. Williamson braved the Strawberry Day's Parade traffic and went out to find a 30 amp toggle switch. He was thwarted at every turn. Hardware stores only carried toggle switches up to 20 amps. For 30 amps he needed to visit a speciality electrical store. He had no option but to return empty handed and feeling very much like a failure.

The Afternoon

"What does my Lady think," the Boggart asked as he and Fortuna watched from a realm unseen to the natural eye.

"I am pleased. Look how frustrated he becomes." Fortuna snapped her fingers for service. The Boggart jumped. "This calls for the finest Ambrosia. Let us take refreshment as we enjoy this morning's sport."

Mr. Williamson told Emily to start the Voyager and run the next five hour mission on red lights only. He went to sit at his desk to open the mail when another volunteer entered the Briefing Room. "Mr. Williamson, have you seen the Faculty Room's floor? There's water everywhere."

Fortuna and the Boggart looked at each other in confusion. They wondered if another God of Olympus had his or her sights on their day's prey. From their immortal perch they followed the parade of staff and volunteers to the Faculty Room. The tile floor in front of the fridge, sink and dishwasher held a large pond of water, much of which was seeping into the surrounding carpet.

"Bravo," Fortuna hissed to whomever it was that vied for her attention and used one of her favorites for personal sport.

"Have I been defeated at my own game?" Fortuna questioned. The Boggart shrugged his shoulders. Someone else entered the room.

"The Perry Paxman," Fortuna hissed. "I thought us rid of that one!" Fortuna clutched her Rod and fought the urge to materialize into human form to deal with her once and for all. The Boggart cowered behind his Lady's glimmering gown. "What brings the Perry Paxman into our game?"

Emily walked into the Faculty Room looking concerned. "Get out from behind me," Fortuna pushed the Boggart away with her foot. "Look at her face. Look at the worry. This is turning out to be a fine day." The two immortals grasped hands, knowing from the look on Emily's face that "the other shoe" was about to drop.

"Mr. Williamson, the Voyager's computers are all freezing on startup. We can't start the ship. What do we do?" Emily needed an answer right away. Her crew was arriving for their 5 hour mission. Fortuna and the Boggart glowed in the knowledge that their night's divining had brought a disruption to "The Perry Paxman's" life as well as Mr. Williamson's.

"Two birds with one Rod," the Boggart laughed. Fortuna patted him on the head. "Good Boggart. Good Boggart."

Mr. Williamson saw something from the corner of his eye - the ghost of a woman standing next to what looked like a heavily sooted gargoyle from a European cathedral. The apparition disappeared the moment it was spotted.

"I believe he saw us Fair Lady." the Boggart worried.

"Perhaps, but like all mortals, he questions what he sees. Pay it no mind," she assured.

Mr. Williamson told Emily to brief the crew while he tried to sort out the Voyager's computers. His mood was dark and his appearance frightening. The staff saw the storm forming in the atmosphere above his head and knew to steer clear of something that could explode unexpectedly in a fury sure to please Fortuna and her Boggart.

Emily was right, the Voyager's computers were freezing on startup. Mr. Williamson was at a lost and ordered everyone out of the simulator while he puzzled over the dilemma.

Knowing this problem wouldn't be solved quickly, Mr Williamson turned to Brittney, "Brittney, move the Voyager crew into the Magellan. You fly this five hour mission." Brittney jumped up and left the ship, taking the rest of the staff with her.

Before leaving the Voyager, some of the staff and volunteers thought to shut down the Security Station. The large black plastic sheet covering the two security computers had to be slid away to do it.

"This could be interesting," the Boggart exclaimed. "Remember how I touched the plastic before you stopped me and pulled me back through the Boundary?"
Fortuna nodded.

Mr. Williamson heard a loud crack. The long black plastic sheet covering the two computers cracked in half. It was the 'last straw' for Mr. Williamson.

"Everyone out. Go to the Magellan." Mr. Williamson's blood pressure reached an all time record.

"He's defeated," Fortuna gloated. "The victory is mine."

"Fair Lady, you may have spoken too soon. Look." The Boggart pointed to a small light descending from Olympus.

Mr. Williamson sat looking at the router. He couldn't figure out why all the computers were freezing at once. Then a memory emerged. The last time he'd seen this kind of disruption to a computer network was when a student created a network loop in the computer lab. Mr Williamson jumped out of the Flight Director's chair and followed the ethernet cable he thought was the culprit. The cable was connecting a large router mounted in a box on the wall to a smaller one located further down the wall. It was a network loop! He unplugged the cable and the Voyager's network problem disappeared. All was well.

"Fortuna," a loud booming voice bellowed through the valleys and mountains of Greece and round the world. The Boggart's eyes grew as wide as saucers. He jumped up, snapped his fingers and disappeared in a cloud of dust and fume.

Fortuna slowly stood and walked toward her golden chariot pulled by white horses. Her sport was done for that day. She stopped momentarily to look one last time on a happy Mr. Williamson and a Voyager simulator with functioning computers. She waved her arm to close the Boundary. The fracture between the land of mortals and immortals closed.

Mt. Olympus

"It will be a long summer mortal. Many things can happen. Zeus can't watch over you all the time. Our paths will cross." She took the reigns and shook them. The horses jumped into a magical gallop taking the Goddess of Fortune to the heights of Olympus for a meeting with the King.
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