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The Pale Man


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I would like to share, with you, a dream that I had back in 1999.  I have my own interpretation of this dream (assuming it has a need to be interpreted) but would be very interested in anyone else's interpretations.  It should be noted that it is not very common that i would have a dream as detailed as this.  And this is likely the only one that I remember being so realistic (as I am sure you hear many people say).  Nonetheless, I wrote this down a couple of days after having the dream due to the fact that I could not get it out of my head until I did.

Warning:  It's very long.


Looking back on that frigid winter afternoon, I am not able to comprehend neither where it was that I was going nor where exactly I have been for that matter. I only remember that I must have been returning from some sort of small annex like I had often visited in the military where I purchased bathroom supplies and reading material. I was carrying a small white plastic bag with a few supplies in it but I don't know exactly what. Thinking on it for a moment I would have to guess that I was carrying a magazine or two, some disposable razors and maybe a deck of cards. This is generally what it felt like while carrying the bag but it's not important enough to go into any further details about it.

A small sheet of accumulative snow was covering the ground and none of it looked fresh. Everything was packed down whether it was on the street, parking lots, sidewalk and even the grass. I was walking along a sidewalk that ran parallel to another small store but not the one I had just come from. I peered off to my left and noticed a man riding a ten speed bike across a large outdoor shopping center's parking lot and heading into my direction. As he picked up speed, I noticed that his goal was to jump the three short flights of steps that crossed the sidewalk in front of me leading to lower ground. I stopped for a moment in order to keep from getting hit by him. Upon stopping, I noticed that the ground just before the steps was covered in a thin sheet of black ice. I tried hollering for him to watch out for the ice but it was too late. In effect, I may have only worsened the situation because his attempt to slow down at the last moment caused him to skid out of control and the rear end of the bike slid sideways hitting the metal railing to the side of the steps. The man flew down the small flight of steps head first and didn't land on the ground until he was at least a good six feet past the bottom step. As he landed on his face and skidded across the ground, the bike landed on top of him with a thud just before it continued on a few feet past him.

I dropped the bag that I was holding and ran down to see if he was ok. He wasn't moving but I heard him grunt a couple of times. I patted him on the back and kept asking him if he was alright. Eventually, figuring that something must be really wrong with him, I turned him over and noticed his right eye had been completely protruded into his skull and blood covered his face. It was so cold out that the blood was already starting to freeze up around his eye socket causing the blood to be at a minimum. What first was a few moans and groans shortly became horrifying screams of terror as he knew that his injury was worse than it appeared to be at first. I lifted him up into a sort of upright sitting position, hoping that I could keep him awake in case he had a concussion. He just gazed into my eyes in horror and cried out in pain while looking at me as if to say "This is entirely your fault". This man was dying in my arms as I tried to say I'm sorry over and over again. A few minutes later, he became silent. He was dead.

I quickly looked up over the flight of steps to see if I could find anyone and holler for help but before I could holler to anyone for help I had noticed the strangest thing. Just moments ago, the sky was clear and blue but now the sky was as grey as ash and snow was falling slowly but thick throughout the place. I couldn't see through the thickness of the falling snow but could make out red and blue flashing lights coming from across the parking lot. I hollered for help as loud as I could but nobody appeared to even notice. The snow began to lighten up just enough for me to make out the many figures of people walking aimlessly throughout the parking lot and other surrounding areas. They were all in a bit of a gaze as if they did not know what had happened or where they were. Even the police and other emergency personnel were stumbling from left to right trying to make something of this odd event. The snow didn't even look white. It was light grey as if ash was falling from the sky. I had to pick some of it up off of the ground just to confirm that it was indeed snow and not ash. It was definitely snow but very dirty.

I didn't even bother to pick up my bag as I respectfully told the deceased man that I was going to go and see if I could find some help and began walking away. I'm really not even sure why I talked to him but it had to be more out of guilt than anything.

What I couldn't figure out is why everyone seemed as though they were in some kind of trance as they walked about to and fro without even knowing what they were doing only moments ago or where they were. And then I noticed that people in suits were driving or walking up to these people and leading them down a corridor over in the corner of the large L shaped shopping center. Once or twice, the men in suits began to walk up to me but somehow knew that I was not as confused as everyone else and then turned away from me to help someone else. I decided to follow them through the corridor to see what was going on.

As I walked through the corridor and out the other side, it was like a scene I remember seeing in Gone With The Wind where people were laid out for hundreds of square yards beneath large canvas coverings. Many of them were wounded and others lying still or dead among them. I asked one of the men in suits to tell me what was going on but he only replied angrily with "I don't have time for games, man". I walked back to the other side of the corridor and it was as though I was in the twilight zone. Much time had to have passed because everywhere looked like an old war zone. There was nothing left standing as far the eye could see. Everything was in ruins. Scared, I turned back to the corridor and quickly walked back to the other side only to find that everyone was now gone and it merely looked like another war zone except that a few buildings here and there still had a small bit of structure to them but still pretty much in ruins. Nobody could be seen anywhere and there was a very eerie silence about the place. It was as if I were the only one left alive in the whole world. I couldn't see anything for miles and nearly everything around me was destroyed enough to see that far also. 

I walked helplessly alongside a line of old buildings that appeared to be still partially intact and noticed the brick-laid streets that reminded me of the streets of Germany that I saw as a small child during the Vietnam war era. I then noticed a small wooden sculpture lying in the middle of the wide sidewalk that I was walking along and realized that it was the exact image of the man who died in my arms. It even had a hollowed out area in the eye just as the man did. Then a strange eerie chill ran up my spine when I realized that somehow, although I am unable to clearly explain this, the wooden figure was actually the man himself but had somehow transformed. 

Suddenly I heard light footsteps slowly approaching from behind me and I turned to see a tall pale thin man walking along the sidewalk toward the wooden figure with his head down and a black hat covering his eyes. He wore a long trench coat and black shoes over even more black clothing beneath his coat. I found it odd that this man was just walking along like he had not a care in the world nor was he surprised to see me standing there. He approached the wooden figure and never said a word or even looked up. I didn't say a thing to him but just watched as the man stared down at the figure for a couple of minutes as if he were enjoying a piece of artwork in a gallery. And then without warning, the man began urinating on the wooden figure. I lunged forward and pushed the man away while blurting out "Have you no respect for the dead?" The man hardly appeared to be stunned at my response and merely looked up at me as if concerned about my way of thinking. He didn't appear to be mad that I had pushed him. I felt a slight bit of fear at the sight of this man and backed away from him. When I did, I looked down and noticed that the wooden figure was no longer a sculpture but had turned back into the actual physical man that had died in my arms. He was still very much dead though. 

The tall thin man bowed his head once more and began to walk away as I heard him say "It is not he who is dead". As the man turned the corner behind a building, he appeared to disappear into a wisp of smoke like magic. I thought this might have just been my imagination but I decided to run to the corner and see if the man could still be seen walking away. As I turned the corner I could see nothing for miles. There was only an entrance to the building that stood there on the corner. The building had to have been a good six or more stories high but perhaps more than that before its destruction. I entered the doorway and noticed that it had to have been an apartment building of some kind once. Just inside the doorway, there were steps leading down to the right and another set of steps leading up to the second floor where two other apartments were. I could hear voices coming from the second floor and decided to go see if that is where the man went. I was just relieved to hear more people though. It took a lot of weight off my chest but I was still worried as to whether the people would be kind enough to accept me into their home for a while and explain some things to me without thinking that I was crazy or anything.

Just as I reached the second floor, the door to the apartment on the right flung open, startling me. Soft music was playing in the apartment as several people stood around talking to one another like it was some sort of family reunion. A few children could be seen running from room to room and the whole place was lit up with candles and oil lamps. 

"There you are, Jon." The young woman at the door said. "I was wondering where you went off to".

I wanted to ask her how she knew me but figured I would just play along for a while by just following her into the apartment without a sound. Everything was already so odd up to this point that it just appeared way too pointless for me to try to explain or have explained to me one more odd thing. I was hoping that somehow the answers would come to me by mere coincidence over time because I was too embarrassed to ask while everyone seemed so happy and not out of place as I did. I was beginning to think that all of this was in my head and that I had suffered some kind of memory loss of sorts. 

I entered the front room expecting people to peer at me and ogle as though wondering who I was and where I came from but instead, I was approached several times by people hugging and saying hello and even asking me how well I slept last night. I had the feeling that it was early in the morning and this gathering was some sort of regular routine around here. People were eating breakfast and others were just walking around playing with the kids and talking to one another like it was just another ordinary day. I would have to say that there were maybe twenty adults and about ten children there but that’s just a guess.

I looked around to see if I could find a place to sit and tried to get un-noticed long enough to gather my thoughts but realized that this room had no seats or anything in it. It was a large family room with hardwood floors, a kitchen off to the back of it and a hallway to the right that led to about a half a dozen bedrooms, a bathroom or two and a small living area where the children often played. I wasn't even sure how I knew this without taking a tour of the place but it was as though I was suddenly remembering where everything was. And yet I still didn't ever remember being here before. It was only a few moments later that it dawned on me that it was some kind of magic or something that was doing this. People were being brainwashed as they entered the place into believing that they knew everyone and that they were always a part of this place. I just couldn't figure out why I knew this but everyone else didn't. It was as though everyone entered this place over a period of time in much the same way that I did and eventually became a part of that magical spell and lost themselves in it. My fear was that this same thing was happening to me. Was I eventually going to forget everything and be tricked into being a part of this whole routine? The worst part was that I was beginning to wonder if that was such a bad thing and let myself give into it. But one thing kept me from falling into the trance. I could somehow feel the presence of my real family, friends and loved ones off in the distance. I wasn't sure where they were but I could feel them and they could feel me. We can almost speak to each other with our thoughts but couldn't communicate directly. I sensed how far they were in miles and in what direction but couldn't go and find them. It was as if we were being watched and not allowed to leave the building or we would be put to death or something. I'm not sure what; but it was that fear that kept me from leaning into it.

I settled in for a while and became a part of this small guild or community but never really let go of my real family as I played the part. We kept in touch in our minds and spoke only with our feelings and awaited the day we would be together again. But just the same, It was as though I was becoming a real part of the people around me as well. Everyday, it was becoming more and more difficult to separate which one was real and which one was my imagination. 

The tall thin man was there too. He was like everyone's father in this place. People looked to him as their guide and leader. But I still saw him for what he was. He was tricking us all. For a long time, I began to fall into it and treated him like our leader as well, but over time, I would fall back out of the trance again. It was like I was at war with myself and kept fighting reality and imagination and it didn't seem to lead me anywhere. Part of me wanted to accept these people as my family because it was easier and they were really physically there. Another part of me knew the truth and that there would come a time soon that we would all be rejoined with our real families. It was just too strange to me and so much of it I couldn't understand.

In the apartment, I began to know one young girl as my own daughter. She even called me dad and others around me knew her as my daughter. I came to find myself accepting that and even on those days when I slipped out of the trance decided that my new daughter would become a part of my real family in the end when this is all over. 

I remember what my room looked like and the smell of the clean cotton sheets. I can still see the blur that remained on the thick glass windows and the smell of old cardboard that seemed to periodically hover around the place. The temperature was always just right during the day but the nights were always chilly. I could feel days go by like they were but hours and yet it seemed like I have been there forever. I was a huge part of their life and they were a part of mine but I never let go of the truth and began to get more and more homesick for my real parents, siblings, and kids wherever they were. And then one day, it seemed like any other day in the apartment until the tall man unexpectedly gathered us all into the main front room and told us "It's time now".

Everyone seemed awestruck at first and then, like clockwork, everyone began filing into some sort of military-like formation in the front room facing the north wall where the windows were. Above the windows hung a black and white school clock that read only a few minutes past eleven. A very odd silence came over everyone and it was so quiet that it felt as though the entire earth stood still and motionless for nearly twenty or thirty minutes while we all bowed our heads patiently and waited. I wasn't sure what it was we were waiting for but I could feel some extreme importance in it. It was as if this was the moment that everything else was building up to. The tall thin man stood motionless at the front of the room facing everyone else in the room. He peered quietly toward me and gazed at me through squinted eyes as if to realize that I knew that everyone was in a trance. He stared hard at me as if to tell me to keep quiet. I suddenly realized what was going on.

At exactly midnight there was to be a transformation of sorts. The tall man, if kept perfectly still and everything went as he planned by managing to fool everyone into thinking they belonged here, would continue to be in control of everyone for another cycle. I'm not sure how I can explain this better. There is no real way to do it because I do not know what the stillness of silence had to do with it. But it was as though, for only this short moment was everyone allowed to think freely and was given that one chance to remember the truth about who they were and where they came from. After that moment had passed, this tall man was not going to care if people liked it here or not because he only made it seem peaceful this whole time so that they would choose this life over the real life of theirs. I knew this but everyone around me was still looking downward in silence and with their eyes shut as if sleeping while standing up. Even the children were doing the same.

I had and still have no idea of what was to happen once that moment had passed. I just knew, at that moment, that we were already in the moment and everyone around me was not figuring it out. But something was about to happen and I didn't know what.

I stood still and tried hard to let the words come out and warn everyone but it wouldn't come out. I somehow knew that if I started talking that I would instantly be struck down and killed where I stood. If I didn't say anything then I would be given the chance to go on to my real family and friends when the moment came but everyone else had to fend for themselves. But I became a part of these people's lives and they were like family to me too. I didn't want any of them to have to stay here and not know the truth when their real families could be waiting for them somewhere else. It was too much for me to bear. The anxiety I felt was terrible.

Suddenly I was startled at the sight of hundreds of black almond shaped eyes that started opening up in the hardwood floor like they were embedded in it. It was like the floors were alive and had eyes. Simultaneously, everyone around me very slowly began to lift their heads toward the clock and their eyes opened slowly in unison. Whatever was going to happen was supposed to happen at twelve o'clock but it was eleven forty. It is happening now. I only had seconds left if I were going to say anything to anyone and decided to just keep quiet. And then I remembered my daughter.

"No!" I screamed loudly. I couldn't believe what I had just done. The eyes on the floor quickly shut and everyone around me looked at me instantly as if to wonder what was wrong. The silence was broken as a few of them mumbled to themselves about my outburst and I sank to the floor in tears at the prospect of what was to come next.  Then the eyes in the floor slammed shut.

The tall thin man called me to the front and I slowly walked up to the front to face him. Along the way, My daughter tapped my leg and asked me where I was going. I just looked down at her and told her that I would see her later because Daddy had something to do.

Everything seemed to move in slow motion as I stepped before him for the first time since I had met him on the street. I noticed that there was a small table next to me that I never noticed before along with a wooden chair that I had never noticed there before. I glanced at it for a moment and then back to the pale man.

"Denounce your faith." The man demanded. He spoke softly but with a firm voice.

"I… " I paused as I found it difficult to speak.

"I will not ask you again," He said. And then he awaited my response.

I remained silent for a moment while trying to figure out what was most important to me or to the rest of my family. After only ten or fifteen seconds, I dropped to my knees and bowed my head.

"I can't." I cried. I expected to be killed instantly but this man touched my shoulder and asked me to be seated at the table that was next to me. I rose to my feet but didn't sit down. I just stood next to the table and waited.

The pale man took something from his pocket that looked like a syringe but with a curved plastic tip instead of a needle. He asked me to stretch out my left arm with my palm facing up and I did. Expecting to have this large plastic needle inserted into my arm somewhere, I was surprised that he merely squirted some sort of clear liquid into my hand that dissolved instantly into the palm. I wasn't sure at first what it was until I felt myself begin to drift away. I think it was poison of some kind.

I fell down to my knees and then slowly down onto the floor into a sitting position. Something caught me from behind preventing me from falling all the way back and hitting my head. I never looked back to see who it was but I could feel the odd presence of the stereotypical image of one of those aliens with the almond shaped eyes and thin bodies. The pale man and this entity along with the many that existed in the floor almost had a strange compassion about me at that very moment. It was as though I were not being put to death but merely put out of my misery. They appeared very saddened at the idea of me dying even though they were doing this. The look on the pale man's face was like that of a boy watching his grandfather die right before his eyes. And just before I completely faded away, I felt the arms of the alien slowly lower my body to the floor with care as the pale man said softly, "Rest now".

I awoke lying back on my bed with my legs hanging down to the floor. I still had my coat and shoes on because I had come home around eight in the morning and sat at the end of my bed. I must have just fallen back and drifted asleep because I was so tired after working a double shift. I remember that I had to gain my composure at first because I really didn't even know where I was or how I got there for the first few minutes. 

The dream seemed so realistic and I couldn't possibly imagine having a dream that seemingly lasted so many months like that. After a few moments I realized that It was only a dream and remembered coming into the house and looking at the clock when I walked into the room. I remember that it was exactly eight fifteen and thinking that Julia would be coming home from work also at any minute. She usually came in at about that same time. The oddest part however, was that I had only been asleep for about fifteen minutes.


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