Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch

A story told from the point of view of an ice-skating demon in a painting by the 15th/16th century Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch.

The painting in question is The Temptation of St. Anthony (left panel)]. Our hero is in the lower right corner of the painting, and is the only one of my characters who exists as an action figure.

Read it here.

I am a small, bird-headed demon, skating. Gliding up a frozen river, I totter from side to side to side; my legs are short and my crotch is low. In my crossed beak, I carry a letter. I have not read the letter.

I am coming to a bridge. I will pass under the bridge and go on.

I pass fields mummified by winter, all snowless rows of frozen mud and broken stalks of grain. A town is nearing on my right, an abandoned place, curtains flapping from the windows. Smells like plague to me. The evening is clouding up, bringing an unhealthy damp, and I skate a little faster.

“Detail” was reprinted in the third issue of Behind the Wainscot, a side project of the online magazine Farrago’s Wainscot. The story originally appeared in issue 11 (fall 2001) of the print magazine Conduit.

Crow Man