The water was calm, its gentle waves lapping softly against the shore. Even the sky overhead contributed to the calm of the place. A secluded little lake tucked away in the mountains. Tall trees stood like sentinels around the water, reaching nearly to the shore. Aspen and pine alike reached up and painted the horizon in hues of greens beneath a blue sky. The dark wood of a small log cabin peaked out from the treeline before a thin wooden dock, a single figure sitting alone at the end.
Wes Greaves relaxed in a cheap folding chair, fishing line in the water, and a cool drink in hand. It was a warm day at his little hideaway, and he let out a deep breath. A breath he felt like he'd been holding for months. He'd needed this break from real life. A break from the doctors, from the counselors, and from Starfleet. They thought he was crazy; he knew it. No one believed him, but it didn't matter.
Wes heard it before he felt it. His breath caught in his throat as a deep chill ran the entire length of his spine. The sort of chill that comes from deep fear and unspeakable terror. The sound was rushing through the trees behind him. The subtle rustling of leaves in a thick forest. A warm wind blew past the man and ruffled his short hair.
The Marine turned his thoughts inward, just like the counselors had taught him. He'd always loved the wind; after all, he'd grown up sailing where the wind was his lifeblood. He tried to focus on that, but failed. After Telstrus III, that love had turned into something else. Something dark and foreboding.
That mission had started like any other—a mystery that needed solving, a starship and crew nearby eager to solve it. Wes had even led the away team himself. Six young men and women, including himself. Just the sensation of the breeze took him right back to that terrible day...
The surface was cool and rocky, with wide-open plains to the north and quickly steepening mountains to the south. They'd materialized at the base of a rocky cliff and immediately had set about their scans. He took stock of his small team, each a fine young officer. In no time at all they were spread out in a search pattern looking for the strange life sign that was the source of the mystery. A smile crossed his face at the team's proficiency, and Wes did his best to help their science officer with his scans.
An hour into the mission was when he’d first begun to realize something was amiss. The ship wasn’t answering any check in calls. Their communicators still worked, but the guardian angel in orbit wasn't responding. Nothing on the tricorder that could determine why. That was about the time Wes heard it for the first time. A light breeze, nothing out of the ordinary except for the fact it was the first indication of wind he'd experienced since they'd beamed in. Ever so faintly, hidden in the sound of the breeze, Wes could make out a whisper. It was a scratchy voice, dry and worn with age, but he couldn't make out the words.
The Marine rallied his team and began searching in the direction the wind to no avail. No one else had even heard the voice, but with each new breeze came another whisper, just barely audible. They searched for another hour, and the wind grew stronger by the minute. No one would say anything, but Wes could tell they all heard it. The wind would roll in, someone would look surprised, searching for the source of a sound, but when he would ask about it, the officer would simply wave him off and say it was nothing.
The day dragged on, each new search pattern resulting in more questions with no answers in sight. By the time the sun was beginning to set Wes was getting concerned. Surly, the ship would send a relief team or a shuttle to extract them. He’d only planned on being down there for a few hours. As the horizon darkened Wes finally made the decision to seek shelter near the rock face. In minutes the team found a small alcove that allowed a respite from the still-growing wind. He could still hear the hint of the whisper in that breeze, but now the man was sure he wasn't the only one.
The eagerness of the small team had been replaced with something darker. They all looked at each other with narrow eyes and suspicious glances. As the evening faded away into blackness they turned in for the night. One by one, each person found a comfortable position and curled up to sleep. For what seemed like hours Wes laid awake, trying to fight for rest while inaudible whispers in the wind kept his mind spinning. He was nearly asleep when the wind changed direction and whipped into the alcove.
This whisper was stronger. The dry raspy voice spoke as if directly into his ear. Wes snapped up and looked around in the dark, his hand reflexively reaching for a phaser. No one was there. Not even his team. He was alone with the wind.
"Hello? Who's there?" the Marine called out.
"You won't survive the night… They'll find you…"
With a flourish Wes was on his feet, phaser in one hand, tricorder in the other. For a moment, the wind died down, and the voice relented, but Wes couldn't detect anything with the device. He took a hesitant step out of the alcove and scanned in an arc for the rest of his team.
"You can't run from them…"
A shiver ran down the Marine's back as the wind and the whisper seemed to whip around him. There was no explanation for it all. His tricorder detected no life signs, not even his own team. The Marine tried his communicator again, but there was no response. The darkness of the planet seemed to consume him. Wes could see no more than ten feet in front of himself, and the wind dominated his senses. With as much gusto as he could muster, he called out and challenged the wind.
"I'm Captain Wes Greaves of the United Federation of Planets; identify yourself!"
The wind, already blasting and strong, seemed to snap at his clothes in response. A whirlwind of dust spun around him, and with it a raspy cackle.
"Find them first. Before they find you…"
He snapped his tricorder shut in frustration and the spinning, cackling wind blew around him again. Without hesitation, Wes pushed forward, directly into the gust. It was like walking through water. Every motion took extra effort. Every move was resisted by the howling wind. He wasn't sure how long he marched through the dark, but when he finally stopped he wished that he hadn’t.
Wes found the first two bodies together.
Their security and science officers lay on the ground no more than a few feet apart. The distinct dark color beneath their bodies was a muddy, gore-soaked, mess. The sight of a blood-stained rock and the crushed skull of one turned Wes's stomach. Deep bite marks in the other's neck spoke to clear causes of death. For a time, Wes tried to talk himself out of the obvious, but he came to no other conclusion. They'd killed each other. The bloody rock still lay at the feet of their security officer, and the blood soaked mouth of the science officer was testament to their final actions.
"They found each other at the same time…" whispered the wind.
"Who are you!" the Marine cried out in anger, and the swirling wind laughed at him in response.
"Find them first. Before they find you…"
Again he trudged along, searching for the rest. One by one, he came across each of his team members. Their doctor, stabbed to death. Another science officer strangled, the bruises on her neck evident, even in the dark. Each time the wind had laughed in its dry, evil, whisper of a voice. Each time it had told him to find the others first. Each time he'd marched deeper into the night. Until the last one.
Wes's tricorder beeped with a lifesign ahead, and even as his spirits lifted, the wind laughed at him again.
"They found you first..."
Before he could react, a giant rock whistled past his head, narrowly missing him. The Marine spun to find their chief of security standing near a boulder, reaching for another rock to throw. The look in the woman's eyes was crazed, and she cackled with delight as another rock was hurled, this one hitting Wes in the left arm with a sickly crack as his forearm broke. A burst of adrenaline carried him through the pain and the man dove for cover, drawing a phaser in response.
"Dianna, what the hell are you doing?" he shouted.
"I’ll get you first! Just like the rest of them!” came the woman’s chilling reply. The wind snapped and swirled and laughed as another rock narrowly missed Wes’s head.
“Stop! It’s me, Wes!” he screamed across the now roaring gale. His words were stolen by the wind and the man watched in horror as the chief of security drew a long slender piece of metal and charged him.
A bright beam of light crossed the distance between the two in a split second, illuminating the ground in a bath of orange hues. When darkness once again engulfed them, it was quiet. The gale stopped, and the plains were deadly silent.
Rushing to the fallen woman, Wes scanned her. Not believing the tricorder he reached trembling hands to the woman’s neck. Her pulse was gone.
It didn’t make sense. None of it did. His phaser was on stun, he triple checked the setting.
“Is this what you wanted?” he shouted up to the sky. “Show yourself, whatever you are!”
Despite his pleas, there was no response. No wind. Not even a gentle breeze to answer. Just the cool hum and the faint blue shimmer of a transporter beam taking hold and whisking the Marine off to saftey.
The XO told him he’d only been on the surface for an hour. They said that there was no evidence of strong winds on the surface, let alone a gale. The ship’s captain was adamant that they’d beamed him back as soon as they had realized that communications weren't working.
For months, he’d undergone tests. The doctors couldn’t find a thing wrong with his head. The counselors did the best to reconcile his memories and feelings. It was all chaulked up to stress induced hallucinations. No one believed his story. No one believed that the wind spoke to them. That it told them to kill. The only thing they all could agree on was that Wes Greaves was the only survivor of Telstrus III.
The gentle warm breeze ruffled his hair again and Wes stood from the chair on the dock. The faint sound of whistling wind through the trees terrified him. Not bothering to reel in his line, the man left the fishing pole and retreated into the cabin. Away from the wind. Away from its insidious whisper.