The iCandidate: Looking For Heroes - 4th Installment
To begin with Installment 1, please click here.
The iCandidate is a unique interactive thriller about a political reality show to choose a potential President of the United States in which the reader has a key say in how the plot unfolds.
In The iCandidate, eight finalists from all walks of life face the kind of challenges they might have to deal with in the Oval Office:
• Will they use the nuclear button?
• What will they do about ISIS?
• How will they cope in a crisis?
At the end of each round the reader gets to cast an iVote to help determine who stays and who goes home. It is democracy in its purest form, free from party loyalties, donor obligations and antiquated electoral practices.
In the novel, serialized weekly on NoteStream, the eventual people’s champion goes on to challenge the political establishment in an iCampaign for the presidency climaxing in an explosive finale in Washington on November 8.
But The iCandidate has even greater aspirations to trigger a revolution in the way America selects the most powerful man or woman on the planet.
Change America one iVote at a time by choosing your iCandidate.
Join the NoteStream Book Club iCandidate: Looking For Heroes – Election 2016 and cast your in-app iVote to save your favorite iCandidates!
Watch out for the release of a second unique contemporary novel - DIVAS by Bill Wagner - this Spring.
NoteStreams are readable online but they’re even better in the free App!
The NoteStream™ app is for learning about things that interest you: from music to history, to classic literature or cocktails. NoteStreams are truly easy to read on your smartphone—so you can learn more about the world around you and start a fresh conversation.
For a list of all authors on NoteStream, click here.
Read the NoteStream below, or download the app and read it on the go!
Chapter 4 - The Search Continues
A large area of the Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado was cordoned off to hide the empty sections and the contestants gathered on the bleachers at one end.
But the numbers were up to a little over 6,000. Part of the field was turned into an obstacle course, and those who made it through to the third round faced a real risk of elimination by humiliation.
Watching in the chilly sunshine, and to the delight of many of the contestants waiting their turn, the entertainment had finally arrived: a pudgy-shaped woman was seen running down the start leg of the assault course in a purple velour pantsuit.
At closer glance, she was a he with a visibly darkening five o’clock shadow.
His wig slipped as he tried to reach up and catch a zip-line, cross a pool filled with water, and land on a bank on the other side. He missed and slipped down one side, ending up in an undignified muddy heap.
From the number on his vest, he appeared to be Tom Jodes, the Mayor of Rayville, a small town in the Rockies about an hour from Denver.
After lying slumped in the dirt for a few seconds, he popped his head up and said with a smile: “How did I do?”
His wife and the other contestants cheered him on, as he took an elaborate bow before changing into a turquoise floral dress with matching heels. He joined his fellow contestants in the stands to wait for Round Four.
Ready Or Not…
There were two paths leading from the arena to the exits.
The first was the Walk of Shame, for contestants who failed to advance on. Hitching up his dress, Tom ran triumphantly down the Walk of Fame path bordered with hundreds of mini American flags that led him back into the arena and on to the next challenge.
“Do you think America is ready for a transgender president?” Tom was asked as he was leaving.
“Of course not. But it’s going to be a helluva lot of fun for them watching me try!”
Salt Lake City, Utah: 8,000
Memphis, Tennessee: 9,000
Miami, Florida: 14,900.
A reinvigorated Mason boarded a flight to Washington DC for the next audition. His spirits were rising with every new city. Kristoff and Desmond joined him for the East Coast auditions with interviews booked on the local radio and TV talk shows, as well as the Today show in New York on Friday morning.
Desmond watched from behind the cameras as Kristoff delivered his smooth patter; he started to relax, he knew the buzz was growing.
Washington D.C.: 16,000
It was late afternoon at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, across the street from the new City Museum in D.C. Advertising executive, Cameron Banks was on the brink of becoming the fourth finalist in The iCandidate. He spent his life riding a knife-edge of arrogance that brought success and trouble in equal measure. But the show was manna from heaven for the smooth-talking, dark-haired Jude Law lookalike.
His wasted good looks drew plenty of attention from the women in the audience.
“We give you a negative situation and you tell us how the Washington spin masters would say it,” said assistant producer Hannah Woodson. “ You have thirty seconds.”
“It's half done,” Hannah said.
“It’s essentially complete,” shot back Cameron.
“They won't even talk to us,” continued Hannah.
“A basic agreement has been reached,” quipped Cameron.
“We're making up the numbers so they will agree with our conclusions.”
“Results are being quantified.”
“Nobody's even thought about it.”
“Not well defined at this time.”
“We hope to God!”
“It'll take a miracle.”
“Serious but not insurmountable problems.”
“Totally out of control!”
“Requires further analysis and management attention.”
“We think you could be presidential material.”
“I’m through to the next round!”
By the time the auditions reached New York, 22,000 wannabe politicians were standing in line outside Madison Square Garden.
The atmosphere outside the arena was very different to the one at the Los Angeles sports arena twelve days earlier. The line snaked along 34th Street with contestants standing on every available inch of sidewalk, huddling in groups to keep warm while they practiced their speeches, or danced in front of dozens of TV cameras.
One man wearing a tux was singing The Star Spangled Banner at the top of his voice; another dressed in Stars and Stripes pajamas juggled while reciting the Bill of Rights. Two or three Statues of Liberty were wandering around, and the American flag was everywhere, draped into costumes or flying high in the morning sky. Two guys in ‘Donald Trump: Make America Great’ t-shirts stood apart, ignored by the crowd.
It was official. The iCandidate was a phenomenon.
Jennifer Flynt wasn’t used to standing in line.
The iceberg blonde suffered in silence until it was time for her to move into the Garden and away from the madness outside. No one would ever guess from her pristine appearance, but inside her nerves rattled and her feet were killing her.
In an immaculate, figure-hugging black dress and stiletto heels, she stalked effortlessly through the earlier rounds before she was told to give a minute speech on a leader she most admired in the ‘Do or Die’ challenge.
She spoke about former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, identifying with the Iron Lady’s determination, her conservative views and her ‘Special Relationship’ with Jennifer’s favorite President Ronald Reagan. She finished with a favorite Thatcher quote: “I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.”
The producers weren’t the only ones impressed by Jennifer’s haughty sexuality.
Start-up app entrepreneur Todd Greenacre, in a royal blue cashmere turtleneck, faded jeans with an iron crease running down the front, watched her audition as he sat waiting for his turn.
Heading for the bathroom, he checked his reflection in the mirror, ensuring his surfer scruffy hair was carefully mussed before taking his seat again. He’d recently doubled his workouts at his East Village gym; he was in the best physical shape of his life. He looked good. He felt powerful.
His phone beeped and he opened the text.
How are you feeling? Are you ready?
He typed back. Of course I am. Never been more ready for anything in my life.
Everything was riding on the next couple of rounds. He was almost there, the competition was dropping like flies, and the preparation was paying off. He felt it in his bones.
He could do this, if only they’d hurry up and call his name.
In Chicago, the parking lot of the United Center was full, but the traffic kept coming, backing up the whole street.
Police reinforcements were being shipped in to appease contestants who worried they were too late to try out. Grace Conwright stood in the ever growing, never moving line for three hours, and it was still only 9:00 a.m.
Her slim frame hidden under a heavy overcoat, Grace made little attempt to talk to anyone, her detachment more shyness than anything else. Suddenly an inebriated man got in her face telling her she looked like the actress Halle Berry and she decided she’d just about had enough. She pulled a hood over her hair and turned to leave when her cell phone rang.
Change Of Heart
Seeing the name flash up on the iPhone, she answered. “I’ve changed my mind. I’m going home, this is insufferable.”
“It’ll be worth it, I promise,” the caller said.
“You’d better give me an idea how long this is going to take. I’m dying for a pee and the guy next to me thinks he’s Bill Clinton. He keeps serenading me with his trumpet.”
“Bill plays the saxophone.”
“Whatever, I can’t stand here for much longer not moving.”
Grace only came home from the Carolinas after being told about the audition. She forgot how cold it got.
“There’s thousands upon thousands of people here. When did it suddenly get so popular anyway?”
“I know, fantastic isn’t it?”
“Not really, not from where I’m standing.”
“Hold on, I’ll call you back.”
A minute later, show staffer Hannah Woodson, her close friend, was back on the phone. “Okay, I want you to leave the line, and discreetly move towards the front. Look out for a man with white hair in a green jacket with a pass around his neck. His name is Nick. He’s going to slip you in ahead of the crowd.”
“Really? That would be great…But is that fair? I’ll just stay here and wait.”
Which holding area are you standing in right now, Grace?”
“It’s letter M.”
“Okay, my estimation is you won’t be inside until about 3:00 p.m. this afternoon.”
Grace paused. “Green jacket you say. I’m coming.”
Hannah and Grace’s families were close when they were younger. That was before Grace’s father, a U.S. Senator from Chicago, was killed along with his wife in a race-hate assassination at a political rally ten years earlier. There was nothing Grace could do to bring her parents back, but Hannah had persuaded her that the show would keep their memory alive.
By the end of the day, 33,000 people had filed through the United Center.
When the final audition came full circle back to Los Angeles on the third week of November, record numbers of potential presidents had lined up through the night. Hopefuls were sent home with wristbands, their ticket to come back during the next two days; there just wasn’t time to fit all 40,000 people into one day.
Dr. Gillian Lawfull
Dr. Gillian Lawfull sat patiently with her 10-year-old daughter Clara, and her assistant Sadie. She felt guilty for dragging them along for such a long day.
“Mom, we’ve been here for hours. When is it your turn?” Clara asked, close to tears.
“Looks like now, my angel. Wish me luck and if I’m gone a long time, just blame Sadie. She’s the one who talked me into this.
“Yes, but you’ll be thanking me when they put you through. Good luck boss!”
Gillian put a hand through her messy hair and wondered if the touch of mascara she’d put on that morning was enough.
Distracted, she forgot about the cup of green tea on the armrest and spilled it all over herself as she got up. While Sadie tried to scrub the tea stain out of Gillian’s hemp skirt, Clara scraped her mom’s hair back into a half ponytail, securing it with a silver barrette, and tried again to persuade her that she should at least wear some lip gloss.
“The judges will just have to like the natural look, stains and all,” Gillian smiled. “Perhaps they’ll appreciate my depth and intellect instead. Oh shoot! What did I do with my audition number?” Gillian started rooting through her bag.
“It’s on your chest,” Sadie and Clara said at the same time.
A clinical nutritionist, Gillian wanted to change a health system she believed was both flawed and unfair; it’s what she told her friends when they asked why she thought it was worth giving The iCandidate a try.
In truth, her reasons were more complex. She’d moved West from her home in Brooklyn when her Marine lieutenant husband was drafted to Camp Pendleton north of San Diego and she hadn’t felt able to move back following his death in Afghanistan six years earlier. It’s like it would be an admission that he was really gone.
The weather in Seattle, where she was living now, had suited her mood. But this was an opportunity to move on, even if it was crazy. In her high school political debate team, Gillian was known as ‘the preying pussycat.
She was no pushover.
Ruffling her daughter’s hair, Gillian took the stage in Los Angeles to become the eighth and last iCandidate finalist.
The Huffington Post reported the next day:
EIGHT FINALISTS MAKE THE CUT AFTER 150,000 AUDITION IN NINE STATES