Fight or flight
By: Amanda Watkins and Sam Godfrey
Amanda: We had planned two visits for our urban exploration: a tuberculosis sanatorium and part of an allegedly haunted insane asylum. We were a strong team of five, equipped with multiple flashlights, emergency weapons (don’t worry, nothing illegal), and I, wielding a camera to capture our findings on film.
Prior to our urban exploration, we decided to hit up Screemers- Hamilton’s staged haunted manor. It was a fun time and left us with little fear in our hearts. But I’ll be honest, once we left, I was still pretty jumpy.
We literally climbed a mountain to get to our first destination: the boarded-shut and long abandoned tuberculosis sanatorium. It was a trek, especially for me and my slow ass, but we eventually made it up and I was more than pleased to see that it was conveniently placed next to a bus route and overlooked the night lights of Hamilton. Pleasant. Or so I thought. As we moved closer to the dark and lonely building, we realized we weren’t alone. Cue ominous music. A sketchy car pulled up a few feet away and suspiciously turned off its headlights. “I’d kill the lights if I were you,” our outdoor adventure guide warned me. I turned off my flashlight and put away my camera and we took shelter behind the unlit, recklessly abandoned walls of the sanatorium. As we watched as another car pulled up, it occurred to me that our only option of escaping this possibly dangerous situation would be to run into the creepy as hell building through a semi-opened window leading to the basement. Oh fuck. This is how girls end up dead. My life has just become a horror movie.
My heart was racing and my pupils dilated. But soon enough, the suspicious vehicles pulled away and our adventure was back on track. Young Sam Godfrey assured myself along with the two others who were freaking out that we were just psyching ourselves out, and so we continued to explore the grounds, and I hesitantly took photos. “Look, that window’s completely open. Funny, it wasn’t like that the last time I was here,” our outdoor adventure guide exclaimed. The silence of our fear was interrupted by the sound of creaking floorboards echoing through the night air. Three out of five of us lost our breath and took off at high speed towards the closest sign of human life beyond the empty grounds.
And so it continues! Our second destination: Century Manor.
Sam: Somewhere along the way I lost my hat, which was tragic, but at least we didn’t loose our cool facing Century Manor. A smaller annex of the larger Hamilton Asylum, Century Manor has remained intact since opening in the mid 1870s, being open to the public as a museum as recently as the 1980s. When we got there though, the building was thoroughly boarded up and equipped with obviously new doors, locks and a security system (ADT, for anyone who wants to know). Most of the windows were either boarded shut by nails in anchors, or covered in metal grates. There were two that were completely devoid of blockades, but they were second-story, nowhere near stairs.
We found some sort of PVC piping hole that let us see into one of the rooms, and when we looked we saw a tiny room with a rusty sink. It wasn’t much, but it creeped us out a little. Aside from that we managed to get a couple peeks inside through the few ground-floor windows that were grated instead of boarded, but we only saw empty rooms. The only things we found to be odd were the obviously new eaves and drainage pipes, and the fact that we could tell, from the sound, that the building was still getting gas.
We trudged, defeated by the security system, back to the main road and split a taxi home.
Maybe next time we’ll see a ghost, or get cut climbing through a broken window, but that night, the scariest thing was our cabbie’s apparent ignorance for speed limits.
Amanda: As I walked towards my front door, a bunny hopped out from behind a tree and I freaked the shit out. I headed inside and locked my camera in a drawer to prevent myself from curiously reliving the creeptastic event. It was 1:00 a.m., I called my mom (naturally) and tried to fall asleep to the lulling sound of a romcom playing on my laptop. But even the voice of Hugh Grant couldn’t help me fall asleep until 6 in the morning.
Overall, the haunted Hamilton experience was haunting to say the least. I eventually regained my sleep schedule and I no longer need to lock my camera in a drawer. And even though I was freaking out at the time, I would do it again, and maybe even dig deeper into the frightening secrets this city has to hold.
If you’re looking for a spook this Halloween, try an urban exploration and live the dream of a horror movie of your very own.