Story Behind the Story: iChaperone

About midnight, the party came to a crashing halt when one of the dive team seniors arrived with a case of beer. Izzy had a split-second to wince before dozens of iChaperones lit up in angry technicolor.

iChaperone is another Codex Writers Weekend Warrior story. I had less than 72 hours to write a 750-word story based on a series of five prompts, mix and match the prompts however I wanted.

One of the prompts was a standard type of prompt that often appears in the Weekend Warrior contest, which was to use any three words out of a grab bag of miscellaneous words. I was mulling over the grab bag – chaperone, turret, magnificent, hopeless, ample, shuttle, eel, acrobat, bleach, conniving, soothe, schism, amadinda, solar, tithe, Chicago, sale, spangles, middling, stonework – and also tempted to combine it with another prompt that had captured my imagination but wasn’t immediately leading to a story: “What’s behind the cloud?”

As I tried to make some of those bits and pieces fit together into something that would lead to a story, I was reminded of a long-ago incident where I’d come home from college and was talking to my parents. They’d just given my younger brother his first cell phone and my mom joked that they’d gotten him an electronic leash and he’d thanked them for it. The ideas crashed together and suddenly I knew that my story was about drone technology evolving to enable literal helicopter parenting.

A story like that could have gone the dystopian route. But when I started to write Izzy’s story, instead of it being about the horrors of the surveillance state, a different kind of story emerged. It’s an utterly idealistic story, where technology is deployed not to punish and control but to truly protect.

We don’t live in that world. But I’d like to.

iChaperone and hundreds of other amazing flash fiction stories can be read for free on the Daily Science Fiction website.

Story Behind the Story: Hinterlight Abbey

Hinterlight Abbey

Every year, the Codex Writer’s Group has a flash fiction competition called Weekend Warrior. For five weekends in a row, we receive prompts every Friday night at 9pm Eastern and have to turn around a 750-word story by Sunday night at 2am. The competition has been going on for long enough that we’ve developed a series of traditional prompts, the most beloved of which is something called the “Title Rummage Sale.”

In the title rummage, run by the amazing Vylar Kaftan, participants click a link to be taken to a random set of five titles that were either created by Vylar or donated by other writers. You can click to refresh the page, but if you do that, there’s no guarantee you will ever see one of those first five titles again. Whenever you find a title that speaks to you, you claim it and the title is yours.

I don’t recall who donated “The Clearest Window in Hinterlight Abbey” but the instant I saw it, I knew that title was meant to be mine. I’ve always been fascinated by the regular clergy (monks and nuns who follow a “rule”, one of the most famous of which is the Rule of St. Benedict) and the word “hinterlight” just begged for a science fictional definition.

The rest is space nuns.