Hamilton Perez’s story “Strix Antiqua” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 16 September 2016.
I’ve always been fascinated by old myths and folktales, and I like to keep compendiums of magical creatures close at hand when I’m writing. In one such compendium I discovered the strix, a bird from Roman mythology often associated with witches, owls, and the consumption of human flesh. Seemed like good material to work with.
The first thing that came to mind was that owls spit up the bones of their prey along with any other parts they can’t digest. Initially, the idea was for a knight in full-plate armor to be devoured by a giant strix, only to be spit back up when the owl couldn’t digest him.
At that time I’d written a lot of fantasy and very little science fiction, so I decided to try going forward in time, rather than back. The knight in armor became a cyborg. The strix, a shape-shifting witch. And the high fantasy I originally had in mind turned out to be something more like a futuristic fairy tale.
Throughout its development, “Strix Antiqua” underwent more changes than any other piece I’ve written. In one version, the protagonist was an adult, telling the story to his niece while her mother lay in a hospital bed. The end result is–at least for me–a story with an oddly lifelike evolution, full of vestigial appendages, questionable growths, and secret histories hidden in its genes.
Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.