Saturday, August 4, 2012

When Fear Makes You Superhuman

Yesterday, at CafeMom's The Stir, which I blog for, a fellow blogger wrote about a young woman who miraculously lifted up a car that had fallen on top of her father. We've heard these "lifted up a car stories" for so long that they've become urban legend. The post's comments section was sprinkled with skeptics, and who could blame them? But I believe it, and I'll tell you why.

While I've never quite lifted a car off of anyone, I did experience one night that was chock-full of bizarre, surreal, and possibly miraculous events -- including an act of superhuman strength. I was in college. I forget which year, but I think possibly sophomore, which would make me around 18 years old. I was home visiting my family. On my childhood property, there were two homes: One where my great-grandparents lived, and one where my grandmother lived. That night, I was staying in my grandmother's home.

A friend who was having a birthday party kept ringing me. Where was I? Wasn't I coming to the party? Each time he called, I assured him I was on the way. However, for some mysterious reason, I never left the house. That night, I couldn't sleep. I kept tossing and turning, wide awake. Something was prickling my subconscious. I was lying on the fold-out bed in the living room. Around 2 a.m., my eyes shot wide open and I looked towards the ceiling. There, I saw a flickering orange light. Thinking it was a flashlight, and that someone was coming towards the house with it, I quickly got up and looked out of the door's peephole.

It was there that I got the horror of my life: Next door, about 200 feet away, my great-grandparents' two-story barn, which kept cars, tools, and all manner of country-life accoutrements, was completely engulfed in flames. The fire must have been burning for awhile -- the flames seemed so high it was as if they were licking the night's starry sky.

My great-grandparents were in the house that was only about 50 feet away from the raging inferno. They were in their 80s, and I knew they'd be sound asleep.

After somehow managing to call 911, I dashed out of the house, barefoot, still in my night clothes. I ran across the lawn that separated the two homes. The fire was licking close to the front of the house, so I ran to the side of the house, near the window closest to where they were sleeping. They always slept downstairs in the living room, since they could no longer climb the stairs to the upper bedroom. My great-grandmother usually slept on the couch; my grand-grandfather on a small side bed.

This is when I did something that, by all rights, I shouldn't have been able to do. I tore the window right out of the side of the house.

The window was encased in a thick wooden frame. In "real life" -- or normal life -- I wouldn't have been able to even get a good grasp on the frame. A pull on the frame would have yielded absolutely nothing. Yet somehow I now yanked the entire frame, whole, out of the house's side wall. This wasn't a new frame, or a plastic frame. It had been built into the built into the house -- was completely indistinguishable from the wall. Once I ripped it out, I threw it aside. Then I punched through a screen and pane of glass.

My great-grandparents were so alarmed and confused by this sudden intrusion that they wouldn't come through the window, as I kept demanding. So I ran around to the front of the house -- this is where the fire raged, so hot it felt only a few feet away. I ran between the barn fire and the house and to the front door, which was locked. I smashed through the window pane, and reached in, to where the key was always kept in the inside lock, and unlocked the door.

By this time, the firemen were arriving, and eventually we were able to get both of my great-grandparents out of the house. The fireman arrived just in the nick of time -- a gas tank outside had gotten so heated, it was about to explode.

The next morning, I had no injuries on my hand. I don't even think I had any scratches.

The firemen stood around the window frame, which lay in its entirety on the ground. How did this happen? They asked. I told them I had ripped it out of the wall of the house. I'm not sure if I remembered doing it -- though I did remember punching through the glass pane. But, since I was the only one there at the window, it was obviously me who had done it. They looked at me -- a young girl, about 100 pounds, skinny and not athletic -- with skepticism in their eyes.

Feats of superhuman strength are scientifically proven. (Linked here is the story of a man who saw a car run over a bicyclist and begin dragging him. The man ran after the car and lifted it, as it was moving, so the bicyclist could escape.) When people are blasted with fear-driven adrenaline, they are capable of going far above and beyond what their bodies normally can do. This is apparently why so many world records are shattered at the Olympics -- even these highly-trained athletes get scared at the Olympics, and they are able to tap unknown reserves of power.

So I tend to believe those "lifted up the car" stories.


  1. Great story. As you know, I always liked your tight writing style.


  2. situations of anxiety can revive old survivalistic memories and old abilities