Alan paused. He knew the voices were there, in the shadows of the trees. Night was approaching swiftly.
He gathered all the dry twigs he could find nearby, not venturing into even the lightest of shadows. As soon as he got them gathered into a large pile, he spun the ridged wheel on his lighter and thanked whatever forces allowed that empty lighter to ignite the fumes of the fuel it once contained. Seizing his chance, he lit the pile of timber. Flames went high into the air, burning bright. Faint hissing came from all around as the shadows melted.
After hesitating, Alan curled into a ball and fell asleep.
He awoke in an empty, perfectly cubic room. An omnipresent, dim, sourceless light eliminated all shadows, including his own. The walls, floor, and ceiling of the room was black, but tinted with something...
He reached out and touched a wall. It was slick. He jerked his hand back immediately. It smelled faintly of iron. A clacking sound echoed behind him. He turned to see a tunnel leading out of the room, just large enough for Alan to precede through unimpeded. He walked.
The tunnel went on for what felt like miles. His legs were already trembling as he reached the end of the tunnel. He peered out into the black, empty expense of a cavern with no foreseeable end. A fifty foot drop awaited him, with a slight incline. While judging whether he could slide down the incline without injury, something knocked out the back of Alan's knee. He slid down, whether he was sure he would live or not.
He hit the cave's floor hard and suddenly, spraining his wrist and accumulating a multitude of bruises on his leg. He stood painfully, looking around for anything he could see in the darkness. The cave was damp, but he concluded it was water this time. A rectangle of the omnipresent light from the earlier tunnel came from an opening in the cavern's wall. He limped toward it.
He was in a room almost identical to the one he had awoken in. Only... He felt strangely happy here. Though on the inside he felt a terrible and undeniable fear, his face contorted into a broad, toothy smile. He looked around the room, until his eyes met the ceiling. A message was written in ice.
"Wake up, Alan." The message warped. "No, stay asleep." It warped again. "You are in her domain now. Wake up!" And again. "It is too late for you."
Alan realized an instant too late that he hadn't been watching the entrance behind him. The voice of a young woman, oddly distorted, sent chills through the length of his spine.
"Welcome back, father."
A blade landed between his ribs from behind.
Alan White's corpse was found in his clearing he had fallen asleep. His body was laying on its side. He had been stabbed through the torso from behind many times, both before and after death. His back was scorched with third degree burns. His legs were mutilated. His hand was in the middle of carving the last letter of two words in the bloody dirt: "PLEASE STOP". His throat was slit in a final act of mercy.
But the most horrible thing about it was his expression. His mouth twisted into that cheerful, contorted smile, and his eyes filled with the most disgusting horror that the investigators had ever seen.
There was no sign anyone else was there, and he had no knives. The autopsy confirmed that he was asleep the whole time.
They found the bodies under the cement in his basement. Twenty, or more... Some were too mutilated to tell. Twenty faces, though. All with unique expressions. The most intact were Alan's teenage daughter, Hannah White, and his wife, Jane White. Hannah held something in her hand: a long steel butcher's knife, stained with dried blood. She had fought back. And her expression was that same twisted smile, her expression just as she had plunged the knife into her father's shoulder. Her second to final act of revenge.
To this day, people in nearby towns will see Hanna White roaming the streets at night in a black dress, with that same twisted smile on her face. Sometimes, just after a criminal disappears, she will be holding a long spear with a tip that glows a ghastly green in the night, covered in blood.
Witnesses of her report that they awake where they were watching her from, whether it be from a bench, or on a sidewalk, or from their own windows. Their memories are fuzzy, as if they had been dreaming the whole thing. They have a name for her.
They call her the Dreamrender.