In this story, a child who finds herself in a place and situation she has no business being is faced with having to make an instant decision to protect her pet, and acts on reflex (instinct) to do so. An older adult, in the same situation, follows instinct as well to protect the child. But this child’s subconscious is capable of suppressing what was around her because she was so busy reacting through instinct, and only years later pokes at her. "Look at me!" This allows her the bigger picture view, which is such an integral part of the story.
I suppose instinct and subconscious both tap into the same source, but instinct feels more reactionary to me. Maybe the gut is made up a bit of both.
dead grass below Johnson’s balcony. He stared at it for a moment, then whipped out his smartphone and swiped it on. ‘What are you looking up now?’ Freeman asked, rolling his eyes.”