Worldly People at Bay

My family likes to sit at the coast of the bay and make grand plans for the future. We drink wine, and we smoke. We talk about the multibillion-dollar inheritance we’ll someday get when an attorney informs us the last member of my great-great grandfather’s secret, second family has died, and my father is their closest relative.

We’ve unanimously decided when that happens, we’ll buy the entire bay. No more tourists, we say, looking at one of the two monstrosities anchored in our tiny bay. Each city-ship that comes in daily has more passengers than the bay’s biggest town has residents.

We’ll sink one right outside the bay entrance, and leave its corpse as a warning to all the others.

We will only allow water travel by sail within our borders. No more waiting for hours, trying to pass the single road in town when the foreigners pour out of their gigantic metal tubs. We conclude outsiders will have access to the bay exclusively on weekends.

Suddenly, the lights on the opposite coast go out. This is a somewhat frequent occurrence, but it earns a standing ovation from our corner of the bay nonetheless. “That’s another thing,” says my mother. “We will enforce a curfew on certain days. Only candlelight will be allowed, so we can watch the stars without all this light pollution.”

She’s got a point I think as I shield my eyes from the neighbor’s floodlight.

“But on other, rarer days,” Mom continues. “We will have a festival of light. Think about it, fireworks and holograms in the sky!”

“Drones,” My brother chimes in.

“Projections on the water,” I say.

Dad’s best friend perks up, “And movies you can watch from the sea!” he sweeps a hand to indicate the mountains rising all around us.

“We should instate new religious holidays,” my adopted aunt contemplates. “We’ll introduce the cult of Machina Abramovich. The matron saint of clean dishes and soft hands.”

“Oh yes,” Dad agrees. “We’ll build her a grand cathedral, halfway up the mountain. People will make pilgrimages just to get a glimpse of her.” My brother and I can’t help but laugh.

I have my own suggestion, “I think Conchetina also deserves her own holiday.”

“Absolutely,” my aunt approves, adjusting her companion’s chubby plastic legs to sit more securely on her little handmade beach chair. “She’s a worldly woman! My daughter’s birthday deserves to be celebrated by the masses!”

“I’ll drink to that!” Dad cheers, and we all raise our glasses in Conchetina’s name.

The other coast has long since gotten their power back. The cruiser is still anchored some kilometers away, slowly turning with the current. It will be replaced by another ship tomorrow. Possibly bigger.

Vanja Čečen

The closest example this universe has to a Hanna-Barbera character, Vanja Čečen is a Serbian author determined to branch out to as many forms of media as humanly possible. Their quest has so far led them to study concept and character design, publish a couple of short documentaries as well as write a deluge of fanfiction and nonfiction. Despite the vice-like grip videogames and fandom have on them, Vanja does enjoy touching grass on long walks with their dogs.

Hailey Renee Brown

Hailey Renee Brown (Ren) is a professional illustrator born and raised in mid Michigan. A former field biologist, they moved across the country from Michigan to Pennsylvania, also moving from science to commercial art. A professionally trained artist, they attended the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, NJ, where they were selected the recipient of the 2017 Norman Maurer Memorial Award as well as the 2019 Joe Kubert Jumpstart Project. They have since worked for a variety of clients from Dark Horse Comics and Dynamite Entertainment to the Brink Literacy Project.