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159 You've Just Entered the Fight-or-Flight Zone

Thrills for Freaky Friday, June 7, Day 159 of the 2024 Story-a-Day Challenge

By Gerard DiLeoPublished about a month ago 2 min read
"You're traveling a journey into a wondrous land of hesitation. Next stop..."

Adrenaline prepares us, biochemically, to fight or run away, two crucial options that made possible our species' survival:

  • Pupils constrict to better focus on our peril.
  • Our heart rate increases for more oxygen to our muscles, so we can use them on-the-fly (to fight or to run).
  • Hair stands on edge, making us look bigger and more threatening, harkening back to when size mattered.
  • Blood pressure rises, delivering more stroke volume to our muscles; gut circulation decreases, allowing more blood for the musculoskeletal system.

There is another dimension, before our adrenal glands act. It is that hither-and-thither zone--that split-second--between the horrifying and when the volitional kicks in. It lies between the pinnacle of our fears and the bottom of our gut. Your signpost up ahead--the "Fight-or-Flight Zone."

Submitted for your approval, a Mr. Addison, who feared being bored more than anything. He often whined, "I'm bored to death," so he lived for cardiac beat-to-beat variability--as wildly variable as possible.

Raised on a rollercoaster, he'd been fed from chainsaws and had been educated by cautionary tales. This was a man who swam with sharks, performed on a high trapeze--netless, and for whom no rules applied. Overinsured and under-cautious, he incessantly sought perils to make adrenaline, which he ate as a relish.

Tonight's thrill meant losing himself--blindfolded and barefoot--in a dark forest.

He trod tentatively, apprehensive of what lay underfoot. He heard scurrying from unseen animals and fluttering from unseen flying creatures. He knew of poisonous things here. He would sweat out his encounters by their escape noises. Although something might bite, sting, or even kill him, he made a game of it.

A large rodent! A cicada? Swoop--probably a bat!

But he was bored.

Then he heard the brush rustling. Snapping tree limbs, something terrible hissed his way, making guttural sounds--not prudent warnings, but susurrated willful threats. He stopped.

His adrenal glands failed.

Something unseen attacked. Pummeled violently, his skin clawed and shredded, and fangs tearing face from skull, he was eaten slowly from body part to body part and front to back. But what scared him most was that he had run out of adrenaline. Both fight and flight failed him.

He was bored to death.



For Friday, June 7, Dayta 159 of the Story-a-Day Challenge

This is a re-working of a previous submission, but it was from 2023, so don't cry "Foul!"

366 WORDS (without A/N)

Title-accompaniment photo was AI-generated (Artificial Impaled), but the adrenal glands were hypertrophic.


There are currently three surviving Vocal writers still participating in the 2024 Story-a-Day Challenge:

• L.C. Schäfer, challenge originator

• Rachel Deeming

• Gerard DiLeo (some other guy)

Read them. Support them. And watch them write mainly at night, disrupting their circadian rhythms, wrenching their adrenals, and crashing them into jet lag.


About the Creator

Gerard DiLeo

Retired, not tired. In Life Phase II: Living and writing from a decommissioned church in Hull, MA. (Phase I was New Orleans and everything that entails. Hippocampus, behave!

[email protected]

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Comments (4)

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Hahahahahahahahaha that was hilarious! I especially loved fed from chainsaws!

  • Shirley Belkabout a month ago

    Gerard, I loved how vivid your descriptions were (raised...fed... educated...etc.) Being a nurse, I'm well acquainted with flight or flight. I remember learning the lesson in Dr. Miller's Anatomy & Physiology class many years ago. We had all been seated and that's when we noted that Dr. Miller was "absent." Then the side door of our class went slightly ajar followed by an intrusive LOUD pop (which scared us out of our wits.) Following that, came Dr. Miller into our room, laughing just as loudly as had the firecracker he threw in, announcing, "That my friends, is fight or flight!"

  • JBazabout a month ago

    Oh this has a wonderful feel of old style tales Deliciously told and a great addition to your challenge

  • Dana Crandellabout a month ago

    There's definitely a Rod Serling vibe in that introduction. And what a helluva way to go! Great job on #159.

Gerard DiLeoWritten by Gerard DiLeo

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