Extract from Michael Mitchell's translation

Alfred Kubin's The Other Side

The city of Pearl was back where it always had been. Patera came out of the Palace, inhaled deeply and so noisily the sound reached even me, then stretched and started to grow taller and taller. Already his head was on a level with me, he could have used the whole Palace as his footstool. His clothes split and dropped away. His face was covered by his long flowing locks. His huge feet parted the streets like grass and he bent down over the station, picked up an engine and blew on it like a mouth organ. But he was still growing in all directions and soon this toy was too small for him. So he broke off the Great Tower and sent tremendous trumpet blasts ringing round the sky. His naked body was terrible to behold. Now he expanded to even vaster proportions and dug up a volcano with a spiral of the earth’s granite intestine hanging from it. He set this gigantic instrument to his lips and the booming reverberations made the universe tremble. He stood erect, his upper body wreathed in cloud, his flesh looking as if it were made of mountains. He seemed to be filled with rage. I saw him kneel down in the distance, flocks of birds becoming entangled in his long hair. He waded out into a sea that scarcely came up to his thighs yet overflowed and flooded the whole world. He trawled through the water with his huge hands, catching ships and writhing sea-monsters, crushing them up and throwing them away again. He trod mountains underfoot so that they spattered like mud and great rivers poured into his footsteps. He was determined to destroy everything. He squirted a stream of boiling urine everywhere, even over the most remote mountain huts, scalding the unsuspecting inhabitants in the steam and killing them. He stamped around in the yellowish-grey flood, his excited body wreathed in clouds of smoke. He threw fistfuls of people for miles until they fell as a shower of corpses. Then a mighty mountain range, which stretched from east to west, began to move. I saw that it was the sleeping American. Patera threw himself full length onto his enemy. As they wrestled, the sea boiled up in waves as high as a house. But I knew I was in the hand of my own fate, and stayed calm.

It was an ocean of blood, spread out below as far as the eye could see. The hot, purple waves rose higher and higher until the pink foam of the breakers washed over my feet. Nauseating fumes went up my nose. The sea of red drew back and rotted before my very eyes. The blood grew thicker, darker, blacker, with occasional rainbow patches of iridescence. Often the viscous liquid would part, revealing a sea-bed covered with soft excrement that gave off a dreadful stench.

Patera and the American grappled each other, forming a shapeless hulk, the American completely fused with Patera. A monstrous body, too huge to distinguish its various parts, rolled and writhed all over the earth, the shapeless being taking on protean characteristics. Millions of tiny, ever-changing faces formed on its surface, all prattling, singing, shouting at the same time, until they were sucked back in again. Then suddenly a calm came over the monster and it rolled itself up into a gigantic ball, Patera's head. Its eyes, as large as whole continents, had the look of an eagle with second sight. Now it took on the appearance of one of the Fates and aged a million years before me. Its jungle of hair dropped off, revealing the smooth, bony dome. Suddenly the head burst into a cloud of dust and I was looking into a blinding, undefined void …