The Stranger Visits
Ernst Jünger, from The Adventurous Heart, 1938. New translation by Thomas Friese:
I was sleeping in an antiquated old house, when I was awoken by a series of strange sounds, which rang with a humming “dang, dang, dang” and at once agitated me in the highest degree. I leapt up and ran with a numbed head around a table. When I pulled on the tablecloth, it moved. There I realized: this is not a dream, you are awake. My fear increased, as the “dang, dang, dang” resounded ever faster and more menacingly. It issued from a vibrating warning panel hidden in the wall. Dashing to the window, I looked down into a narrow old alley that lay in the deep cleft between the houses, over which the ragged tail of a comet twinkled. A group of people, men with high, pointy hats, women and girls stood below, attired in an antiquated and disorderly manner. They appeared to have just run out of the houses into the alley; their voices echoed up to me. I heard the sentence: “The stranger is back in town.”
When I turned around, there was someone sitting on my bed. I wanted to jump out of the window, but was spellbound to the spot. The figure rose slowly and stared at me. Its eyes glowed, and as their gaze intensified they grew in size, which lent them a horribly ominous aspect. At the instant their size and red blaze became intolerable, they burst and then trickled away in sparks, like bits of glowing coal falling through a grate. Only the black, burned-out eye sockets remained, as the absolute Void that lurks behind the veil of horror.
Jünger’s close friend, Alfred Kubin, untitled (1900)