A Gust of Wind

A Gust of Wind, story and art by P. L . Cobb

Perhaps it was the weather. It was mid-September. A gust of wind tore past her.

A gust of wind sent her hat flying off her head. Cursing under her breath she ran after it. Then stopped.

Marianna and the stranger stared at each other.

“My name is Chrystopher,” he told her, holding her hat out to her.

Marianna took it. “Thanks. I’m Maria.” That was not the full truth, but also not a lie. She turned away. “Thanks for catching my hat, Chrystopher.”

“Goodbye,” she heard him whisper.

Chrystopher watched her walk away down the bike path, twirling one of her stray hairs between a thumb and a forefinger. She looked exactly the same as she had a thousand years ago. It pained him to see her go . . . The woman who couldn’t die.

I took away everything that made you human then, he thought. You’re a daemon, just like me!

The man turned into a cloud of multi-hued mist, which then evaporated.

Marianna shivered at that exact moment. She had found her encounter uncomfortable, but couldn’t say why. “Chrystopher,” she muttered. Marianna had no idea he had been behind her.

She had checked a few minutes before.

She drew her sweater closer to her. Perhaps it was the weather. It was mid-September. A gust of wind tore past her. Curious, Marianna looked behind her shoulder.


“Okay, I’m going home now!” she told herself. She felt an itch between her shoulders blades, but ignored it. Where do I know him?  She wondered to herself, if she even knew him. Perhaps from another city. Then she smiled to herself, realizing how strange it all was. Where’d Chrystopher run off to in such a rush? 


The bushes, thin as they were?

Maybe he was hiding behind a rock. Or in a ditch.

By the time Marianna had walked into her apartment she had concluded that Chrystopher was a strange man. So glad I didn’t give him my real name! Marianna lifted the curtains in the living room and took a peek at the parking lot below. The lot was empty at this time. She frowned, but then shrugged. Just as she was about to fix herself a mug of tea there was a single knock at the door. It sounded more like a gunshot.

Marianna froze, waiting. When nothing else happened she crept to the door, pressing her ear against the surface.

Other than the pounding of her heart there was nothing that she could hear; she opened the door a crack at first. Marianna stumbled back, gagging at the smell of decay.

A pair or dead eyes regarded her from their place on the blood soaked carpet, sitting just a few inches from the severed head of a coyote. Fighting the urge to vomit, she crawled back to the door. Just as she was about to slam it shut her ears caught the sound of wind rushing through the halls.

And laughter.

“You didn’t like my gift? That used to be your favourite!”

It suddenly dawned on her what Chrystopher was.

Sleeping Beauty, In Death She Lay

Why does he always do this to us? a stray voice said.

Marianna shook her head again, trying to dispel that voice. It kept popping up out of nowhere, muttering a cryptic phrase or sentence here and there, sometimes speaking in what sounded like French. She was beginning to worry about her mental state. Or worse, her fate. As much as it pained her to admit it, something was up.

Why can’t you just go away? she told the voice. For once in my life things are good, and you just have to come and ruin it for me! For us!

He walks with you, waiting to cross over. The king in the shadows is here!

Marianna let out a sigh. It was never going to stop. The constant death threats, the harassment, the need to move from town to town . . . The blanks. She shuddered. You just got a draft of air in your face–air conditioners and drafts don’t like to play nice! she reminded herself.

Something had to stop.

Sooner or later someone would snap. Marianna swore that she wouldn’t be the one. Never!

The king in the shadows is here! He creeps along the secret places. He has eyes on you always!

Marianna ignored the voice. Not again, she told herself as she reached for a package of tin foil. “I am so sick of this,” she muttered to herself, thankful that no one was in the aisle to hear her conversing with herself.

Allow me to clarify, my dear: HE is watching you!

That voice sounded like an older version of herself, she mused; at this rate it was possible for her to become a paranoid mystic of some sorts. She was going on into her late twenties though. That’s probably what I’ll be like in my thirties then, she concluded. Marianna shook her head again. “Please don’t let yourself go down that dark road!” she muttered, comparing the prices of two different toilet paper brands, but to no avail.

Am I a joke? she questioned herself.

No my dear. You are just old like me.

Like us, Marianna added.

Yes, I am the old realization of the self, but essentially we are the same.

Marianna just tossed a package of toilet paper into her cart. Shopping was something she found little to no joy in–at least when it was a chore. Stick her in a chocolate shop, or a pet supplies store, and she’d be in heaven until she became bored.

Lately life had been just that: boring. Well, a mixture of boring and harrowing, if one accounted for all the mysterious harassment she had received.

Marianna never told anyone the complete truth when the topic of her moving came up. She just couldn’t. Not only would they worry but they would think that she was crazy. Nothing hurt her more than being labelled a lunatic. She loathed the thought of someone deciding herself incompetent and then stripping her of all personal agency. No one would go to that extreme. Still . . . Marianna found herself in a cold fury at the mere suggestion.

The checkout line went by in a blur. Before Marianna could blink she found herself waiting at the bus stop. What the hell? Where had she been in between?

Sleeping Beauty, In Death She Lay; story and photography by P. L. Cobb

Despite the chill the sun was still out. Marianna had made sure that it would be when she first left her apartment.

Oh well, you’re fine. Maybe it wasn’t that interesting, she told herself. It was cold outside, with a light breeze that smelled strongly of cut grass. It was a normal, comfortable smell. Despite the chill the sun was still out. Marianna had made sure that it would be when she first left her apartment. You need a car, she told herself. Then: you need another job to do that.

Sometimes it was hard to be happy. Money and the lack thereof had a way of making one miserable. When you had a voice in your head claiming to be you from a more privileged past life things were much worse. Or wrong?

The thirty-year old within her meant well but it was such a damn killjoy at times.

And damn frightening.

At times that voice would allude to the occult, otherworldly creatures, and a daemon lover, without ever going into detail. It just happened without conscious volition; Marianna had tried willing the voice to say something–anything–and found nothing. There was no one serious to talk to, except for her counsellor; more than anything she wished she could speak frankly with her parents about it. Her parents were both very religious people. Speaking with them would not end well, she feared; they already thought there was something wrong with her to begin with. Trying to explain this would result in nothing. You don’t need any of that.

As for herself Marianna was not religious; she didn’t believe in the supernatural, and preferred a logical explanation for everything. She had been raised to fear the lord, among other things. Sometimes it was hard to do anything. Anxiety and sometimes fear would take over, or try. In a way the constant moving also served as her own form of therapy. Marianna was building her confidence back up.

Marianna blinked once and found herself staring down at a woman laid out on her back. Her hands rested on her chest. She looked like she was dead.

He was standing over the woman’s body, looking down at her. Chrystopher, she thought to herself. What is he doing here? Chrystopher was the daemon that haunted her. She had also known a Chrystopher in life; she would always run into him at odd times, in every area she had moved to. Sometimes she couldn’t separate one from the other.

Chrystopher the daemon looked at the woman with an unreadable look on his face; his ears twitched, and his tail flicked back and forth. That was it. Other than that. He was standing still over the woman. Marianna, wake up, he said softly. Wake up, my sleeping beauty. He was speaking in an older French dialect.

The older version of herself whispered: the king in shadows watches and waits.

Chrystopher looked up, directly at the current Marianna.

The real one.

You’ve changed. He began walking towards her. The Marianna who had been dead had disappeared.

You don’t make any sense, the real Marianna said, feeling angry.

My daemoness, he mocked, you still have your signature temper!

Marianna frowned at him. This wasn’t even happening; was she speaking out loud to herself? Were people watching her, giving her a wide berth of space at the bus stop? You love to hear yourself talk, don’t you? Da’Kiri you’re still the same!

The daemon stopped. He appeared hurt. He also appeared to be older now, more opposing– if that was a possibility. I can see you. He said. I’ll be coming for you soon.

Marianna kept her silence. She looked behind the daemon, whoever he was, and saw that the dead Marianna was back. There were bite marks on her neck, as if she were mauled. But no blood. That Marianna opened her eyes; they were cold black pools which sucked up the light.

The real Marianna blinked and found herself lying on her bed. Her hands were clasped on her chest. On checking her kitchen she found that everything was put away in its proper place. When she returned to her room she crawled back into bed. “When will this end?” she whispered, closing her eyes.

When you die.


Appeasing Nothing

Appeasing Nothing, by P. L. Cobb

Friday Lovin’

Again, I apologize for the general lack of posts. I’m still doing that life thing: apply for jobs, do freelance, apply for unemployment. The H&M recruitment site is very well designed, to be a little off topic. Anything that allows you to use your Linkedin profile gets an A in my books. Rather than drool over the fantastic user experience . . .

Maybe it’s because of the trace toxic chemicals that are still present in the soil, or maybe it’s Maybelline?

On a side note, I would just like to mention that I have produced some quality material for EMP; a lot of it needs to be typed up. I find that writing things down goes a lot quicker. Call me the Word Wizard for now, I guess. Emperor is also acceptable . . .

–P. L. Cobb

Friday Lovin', by P. L. Cobb

Nah, it’s definitely the dihydrogen monoxide!

Exhibit C

Exhibit C, by P. L. Cobb

Exhibit B

Exhibit B, by P. L. Cobb

Exhibit A

Exhibit A, by P. L. Cobb