Robert Stroud a.k.a The Birdman of Alcatraz – did you ever wonder why he caught that first bird? Why he risked punishment and solitary to breed them? It wasn’t because he was lonely, it wasn’t that he was bored, it was because of the silence.
Alcatraz was a dead zone for birds, no scraps, no vegetation for wildlife – no birds. The stillness of the night was viciously interrupted by the lights switching on every morning in the cells. There was no birdsong, no seagulls jostling for the skies, just the shouts of the guards.
The protests lasted for months, but the science was clear, bats and birds were the reservoir host for so many pathogens. Bats weren’t missed by most, but the birds…
Birds were so engrained in the morning routine that for months after the cull, people reported fatigue; artificially jolted out of sleep, like the prisoners of Alcatraz.
So, Tobias woke early, the glare of the alarm flashing in his eyes, the din wrenching him from sleep. Bleary eyed he got dressed and glanced out the window into the darkness.
Without food or water, no coffee or tea, he picked up the box that lay by the front door and left the flat. Taking the stairs he headed up to the roof and pushed open the hatch.
The cool night air made him shiver as he approached the edge of the roof and looked down, to the road, fifteen floors below. Across the city before him, a few lights twinkled, but the the city mainly slumbered.
Tobias unpacked the box and turned it on. It hovered above him and then he sent the drone flying off into the dawn. He flicked a switch on the remote and birdsong began blasting out from the speakers – they called him The Birdman and the city was their prison.