Over the course of my life, I have scampered across the globe, from the sweltering heat of the Middle East, to the chilly ranges of the Alpines, from the scenic waterways of Venice to the casinos of Las Vegas, and from the deadly Alcatraz Island to the underwater reaches of the Great Barrier Reef.
Every place I have been to has taught me a new lesson in life. None more so, than the tiny island off the west coast of California. As I entered the deadly prison of Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, walking in the footsteps of some of the most gruesome killers in history, including the likes of “Birdman” Robert Stroud, “Machine Gun Kelly” George Barnes, and “Scarface” Al Capone, I felt a shiver run down my spine. Only the best of the worst would get to Alcatraz. I committed many errors here at Alcatraz which landed me in hospital with a fever and sleep deprivation.
Error #1 – Taking the audio tour of the prison cells. As I put on the headphones, I was immediately greeted by an eerie voice, saying “I am Robert Stroud, better known as “Birdman”. Welcome to the most horrifying place on earth.” Not exactly fascinating opening sentences for a 10-year old boy, who’s claustrophobic and nyctophobic (for those who are scratching their heads, it’s the fear of darkness.). It was narrated by the man himself. So if the emphasis was on scaring people out of their wits it was certainly working on me.
Error #2 – Entering the cell once occupied by Al Capone. This was where I really started to think I was losing it. The cell was exactly the same as it had been back in the days when Alcatraz was a federal prison, when it was inhabited by one of the most feared criminals in the history of the United States. His footsteps had been engraved on the floor and his bed maintained with great care. Sitting on that rusty chair and looking into the mirror that “Scarface” once used every day, I suddenly felt someone breathing heavily down my neck. Then, I felt someone grabbing me by the neck and trying to choke me from behind. Turns out Al Capone was long gone, and it was just my sister trying to “play” with me.
Error #3 – Clicking WAY too many photos. Out of my dread and fear, I had involuntarily clicked away on my new Sony handy cam, and how much ever I tried to banish the memories of that fearful day, those photos would just pop up to say “Here I am!”. If that was was not bad enough, my sister(again!), sensing the opportunity, made the scariest picture of George Barnes my tablet’s wallpaper. So it would be like he would be staring into my eyes every single moment I took my tab. To make matters worse, I didn’t know how to change the wallpaper!
Disclaimer : If you plan to visit Alcatraz, leave your camera behind. And take some sleeping tablets along.