“Julie J. loves Amanda F.”
-The Insane Scrawlings of a Madman
Last night I officially ended the leave of absence which I had taken from the military to travel around the world. I picked an interesting night start attending again, as this night we all boarded a bus and headed up to Hamilton’s long-abandoned Sanatorium for FIBUA (fighting in built-up areas) training. Now sanatoriums were typically used for the recuperation of those afflicted with TB but apparently this one also saw use during its tenure as a crazy house. Several of my comrades knew a guy who knew a guy whose mom used to do psych evaluations there, etc… Whatever the actual use of the building it certainly bore all the earmarks of an abandoned asylum; heavily reinforced doors knocked right off the hinges, once austere and sterile rooms and hallways now littered with debris and broken parts of the ceiling, and an unsettling chill which befell you upon entering. This last is not an attempt at hyperbole; it was actually a few degrees colder inside than it was in the unseasonably warm January night air.
After leadership assured us that reconnaissance had been done and no zombies had been found we entered to begin the night’s training. Things progressed as expected; some of the FIBUA doctrine had changed so I had new guys correcting me the whole night. What I was struck by was how perfectly this real-life Arkham would have suited my purposes had I still been travelling;
Artist’s rendering of where we were last night
easy to break into, overhead cover, and enough rooms so that I could give my “for real crazy” fellow squatters a wide berth. Speaking of which, we encountered no squatters, just evidence of young vandals. I found our pre-training briefing interesting in this regard as it mentioned the possibility of encountering squatters and instructed that we were not to bayonet them. While such advice would seem self-evident to most normal people, you would be surprised what you need to explicitly outline for army guys.
I started thinking again about if I was sleeping in this place during my travels and a foreign army stumbled upon me while conducting training. What kind of treatment would I be in for? Not every army (including our NATO allies, as my former Afghan interpreters informed me) is as accommodating and live & let live as the Canadians. And really, a homeless guy (or homeless pretender in my case) is an easy mark for any army composed of riled-up young males with weapons and a “kill kill kill” mentality which happen to stumble upon him. And even if said homeless person was not treated roughly, it still must be an unsettling feeling to have the military bust into your home in the middle of the night.