Once, when I was very ill, I went hiking and was nearly eaten by eagles.
I was undergoing the slow, torturous process of re-building my muscles from a long illness. When I reached the limits of my endurance, I let my group go on ahead while I curled up by a pile of driftwood and fell asleep.
Animals recognize weakness.
My hiking partners called me the animal whisperer that year because we have never, before or since, seen that many predators at that close of range.
I knew better.
I woke, leaning against the burl of a large piece of driftwood, to find two eagles less than five feet above my head.
As I moved, trying to look larger and healthier than I was, I could see them debate whether I was worth the effort.
I have never been able to hear eagles since without remembering that moment, where I could so easily have crossed the line from threat to prey.
I love the wilderness, but I have no illusions as to how quickly roles shift, how easy it is to transition from control to chaos.
Threat is a difficult concept to provide in writing.
It is easy enough to create characters who have no real challenges, who face no real losses at any point in their path.
It is easy enough to forget that even the strongest can be laid low by single misstep and that those missteps are a vital part of any journey.
We are not always predator, not always prey.
Sometimes the survival of the fittest is the survival of an ill woman pretending to be larger than the predators above her.
I find it interesting to think about how quickly our fortunes can change.
For my own take on threats, fantastical and otherwise, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor is available here.