She looked at the painting for the first time. It rose from the wall, levitating in its massive form and monumental message, leaving its gold frame far behind on the white background. Small and open-mouthed next to its size, she gazed up at the man that was not a man, at the animal that was not quite an animal. The beast that was not on all fours, but wearing a tailored jacket and a small hat that had holes for his horns. His face was red and long and hairy beside the ears. He stood in the middle of two iron gates, held slightly ajar with the weight of his body. Behind him a city burned red and hot. His lips betrayed a small, sly smile. Half a dozen women with large round bellies were in various states of falling, some lay lifeless on the cobblestone streets. Babies lay in piles by closed wooden doors. Just behind the gate was a copulating couple on fire, streams of smoke rose from their flesh into the dark night. He stood at the gates of this mayhem. His kingdom or his punishment? His legs were long and hairy, with thin ankles and the strong thick thighs of a horse. His penis was long and engorged, sticking up like the black spikes of the metal gates. He leaned on one of the open gates, leaning just slightly on his right elbow in a gesture of satisfaction and contentment. A creature completely comfortable in the chaotic setting of smoke and dim, reddish lights and the smoking couple and fallen babies and women who would never be mothers. His left foot reached out to her, a cloven foot of gray with streaks of black. His other foot hung back in the shadows, five toes of a pale, reddish hue. The ground below him was a mixture of dirt and black ash, beyond was a barren landscape of dead trees and smoking bushes.
“This is us,” she thought. “Our lineage vilified and made shadowy and dark and full of horror. This is the full blooded fear of man. The fear of birth and death. The fear of sex and pussy and earth and the mushrooms which spawn beneath the visible surface. We have watched through centuries, as large skirts have given way to slips and then jeans. Watched as the fires burned flesh and the screams curled with the smoke. We have watched it all. The vilification. The quest turned to the dirty kiss. We watch still, knowing, just as the smile implies, that what we do will always remain in the realm of the mushroom and the roots. The fires will come and play with the land and play with our flesh and we will be of the darkened shadows and the red clouds. We are of one, of the other, of earth and air, stardust and bright light.”