Kings Park Psychiatric Center finally closed it’s doors in 1996. Since that time, the hospital grounds have stood largely abandoned, vandalized and partly re-purposed into a park. The remaining buildings are often illegally entered by curious urban explorers, teenagers and people with a penchant for inhaling peeling lead paint and asbestos.
In mid June, I hopped on the DRZ and headed over to Kings Park building 93 alone as nighttime settled in. In hindsight, I’m not really sure what I was thinking. I’m not brave and I have a pretty vivid imagination.
I pulled up in front of the dark tower of building 93. I took off my helmet and began to unpack my camera. What started as a few annoying buzzes around my ears turned in to a full-scale mosquito invasion around my entire head. I swatted and batted the annoying blood-suckers out of the way, trying to compose myself and avoid getting malaria.
During a respite from the attack, I came to realize that I was alone. In the dark. In front of an abandoned psychiatric hospital. Sometimes I am not gifted with forethought.
My ability to scare the sweet bejeezuz out of myself is legendary at home. There are moments when I will forgo reality and give myself over to the idea that anything is possible. You know, like say… zombies, looming serial killers, blood thirsty cult members.
As I stood with my back turned to the limbless hull of a once mighty tree, I got that creeped-out feeling that comes when the hair stands up on the back of your neck. In a complete suspension of reality, I decided that the Zodiac killer just might be lurking back there. Watching… waiting…
My brain went in to hyper-crazy mode remembering the details from Robert Graysmith’s book Zodiac in which the killer moved towards a couple at Lake Berryessa wearing an executioners hood. I spun around and searched in the dark but saw nothing.
I knew I was being ridiculous and I tried to get my imagination under control. I turned back around and focused on building 93 again but not before looking over my shoulder once more for good measure.
I looked to the tall brick building and pretended I wouldn’t be dragged off into the dark trees by a creeper behind me. As I moved toward the tower, I thought I saw a small light in one of the right side windows on the top floor. It went out so quickly I couldn’t help but wonder if I really saw it or not. I stopped and stared in the silence of the night.
There it was again! This time the light had moved a few windows down towards the left. I was able to snap a picture of what was obviously the light of hell that shone in the ghostly eye sockets of a deranged lunatic.
The light quickly went out again and came back on having moved even further across the building. I stood in the dark street watching. Zodiac behind me, crazed lunatic ghost in front, attacked by bugs from all sides.
The nail in the coffin came in the shape of a mid 80’s sedan. It pulled up with the grill facing me about 20 yards away. It shut off its headlights – leaving only the little orange parking lights on – and sat there idling. Why? Why was it just sitting there?
What the hell was I doing there, anyway? Alone in the dark, I’d had enough. I didn’t need to know anything about the people in the car, or the tower ghost or to be killed by Zodiac. I needed to go home. So, I turned on my heels and briskly walked back to my bike. I don’t think I’ve ever packed my stuff up and put my helmet on so quickly before.
My original intent in going to Kings Park was to learn to use my camera at night. I haven’t the slightest idea what the dials and menus do, so I figured I could learn with an interesting subject. Next time, I will bring an assistant (that I can outrun).