The only fear in the moment was an unsettling anxiety fluttering in my gut. As for Bandit, he returned the owl's gaze as if there were some unspoken communication taking place between two souls far closer to their ancient source than was mine. As for the owl, he knew too well himself, his right to be there gazing down upon these intruders into his world. This was his acre in the forest; this was his hour in the night.
Those burning, blazing eyes began to set afire the thoughts latent within my soul. Like the rising sparks within the smoke, so came to life the forgotten fears about myself. "What right had I to be in the place? I was a creature of safely tended fireplaces, a creature in desperate need of shelter and cozy blankets in order to make it through the night. What right had I to face eye-to-eye this heartless hunter who stalks in silent savagery? I would most likely starve if left to my feeble human ways. I would need tools of death and I would use them clumsily if not desperately; whereas for this hunter who sat above us so self-assured, so stately, this night would simply be one more night in the living of his days. He had no fear of me. He was far more himself than I might ever hope to be.
And Bandit? I did not envy him in those moments when our souls were laid bare. I thought that he must be torn between the way he was meant to be and the way he had become to be. He was closer to the wild within him than was I. I had lured into my world of human apprehension and human frailty. I feared the resurgence of the wild ferocity in me; I wondered if Bandit instead yearned to remember from when he came.
On that night, the owl lingered long in his silent scrutiny of these two sojourners in his dark and silent world.