The moon was barely visible as the sun peeked over the horizon. Hovering at the freezing mark, the thermometer would hit its high of 35 right at noon and then drop off into the teens throughout the day.
As he had done daily for the past three months, Matt Downs was walking to stay fit. This morning, he had a thousand thoughts milling about in his mind: bills, work, the kids, his wife, and an upcoming vacation to the Outer Banks. He could really use the relief.
Downs was dressed appropriately for the weather but by the end of the walk was breaking a sweat, and it would continue until he got through the door at home. He had 10 minutes left in his walk and saw from the City Park clock that he was four minutes ahead of schedule, so he slowed his pace.
Just as he turned the final corner along the perimeter of the wooded park with the stream flowing through it, he heard a rustling in the leaves 20 feet away. It wasn’t a rabbit or squirrel rustle because he had heard plenty of those before.
No, this was something bigger.
Recently, people on the local neighborhood app reported coyote and bobcat sightings in the area, but he didn’t pay much attention to it since those online sites were given to hyperbole and fearmongering.
A flood of thoughts and fears replaced his daily worries.
What if what they had been saying was true?
What if it was a coyote rustling in the leaves?
What if it was a pack of them? Even two would be formidable.
Would he even know what to do if they attacked him?
Is that what coyotes even do?
Was he supposed to stand his ground and fight them off or just try to make himself larger?
Or just run as fast as he could and hope he could outrun whatever was lurking?
The age old Fight or Flight argument swirled briefly in his head.
They didn’t teach him any of this survival stuff in business college, that’s for sure. A chill went up and down his spine and the sweat solidified on his forehead.
The rustling leaves continued and seemed to be getting closer even as he tried to distance himself from it.
Within milliseconds of hearing the last rustling, Matt attempted to break a land speed record on foot. Nothing ever overtook him, but he never turned back to take any chances. The hair on the back of his neck had even entered this race and was starting to pull ahead when he arrived at his door step.
The time for What If questions was done.
Matt Downs was clearly in the Flight camp of the Fight or Flight discussion, and he wasn’t a bit ashamed to admit it.
Having experienced a meeting with fear ourselves, we welcome Matt Downs to the Flight camp!
I remember walking through the forest in Dupont Washinton it was quite a ways to get to Sequalitchew Creek, I would hear these rustling sounds that would make my hair stand up. I would run like a fool till I got to the lake. Only to find out it was other hikers and their dogs. Nonetheless, it was scary 😨. good story today David! Love your stories early in the morning I wait for that ping to let me know you have posted.