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