The iCandidate: Looking For Heroes - 7th Installment cover

The iCandidate: Looking For Heroes - 7th Installment

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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.


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars on 2 reviews

"Hooked!!" 5 stars by




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The iCandidate: Looking For Heroes - 7th Installment

Chapter 12 – The White House

Walking in from the chill of the Rose Garden, the President felt the telltale buzz in his pocket, his phone alerting him to a new message.

He sent a grammatically perfect text to his wife, telling her he was downstairs, and then turned on the TV. He slumped behind his Resolute desk, piled high with official-looking letters and wondered how nice it would be to have just a few minutes to himself.

At least it was warm. The fire in the elliptical-shaped room seemed to magically light every evening, even if it was warm outside. He put on ESPN to check on the Cubs. There were no surprises there. They were losing.

Resolute

Resolute

He’d never expected it to be easy, and it hadn’t been.

He was tired now; he was nearing the end of his second term and looking forward to a time he could play a round of golf without interruptions or grief from the press.

It would be nice to relive some of the initial fervor of his early days in office. But right now, he’d have settled for a nap in front of the TV.

Tired

“Mr. President. Mr. President?”

He awoke with a start. “I’m sorry, man. I never have been able to sleep on planes, not even on Air Force One. It was a long flight back this afternoon.”

“Don’t worry boss.” White House Chief-of-Staff, David Platt was standing over him. “I know how you feel. I won’t keep you long, but there’s something we should talk about.”

“Not the VP, surely. He hasn’t gone and put his foot in it again, has he?”

“Not this time, Mr. President. He’s been on his best behavior since that episode when he was caught on a hot mic trash talking the Secretary of State.”

Can It Wait?

“What is it, then? Can it wait until tomorrow’s briefing?”

“Afraid not. Mind if I change the channel?”

“Be my guest. Haven’t you got a pile of papers for me to plow through?”

“I have, actually, but I figured you’d want to see this.” The television set erupted in a blaze of noise and flashing lights.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” a familiar celebrity’s voice filled the room. “It is my great privilege to introduce you to your finalists in The iCandidate.”

“Are we really going to take this seriously? It’s a game show, for goodness sake.”

The Country is Watching

“Well, half the country is watching it and these guys are polling more votes a week than some of your would be successors are pulling in.

So, I guess somebody had better start paying attention.”

“I’m just glad it’s not me.” The President stretched. “Never thought we’d be taking on the winner of American Idol.”

“It’s The iCandidate, sir.”

“Whatever. That’s what worries me about Hillary’s obstinacy about fighting this election. She’s going to have her hands full with Donald Trump if he manages to bully his way to the Republican nomination.”

New Faces

“Oh I’m sure she’ll beat him,” Platt said confidently.

“Don’t be so certain. We desperately need a new face, not another Clinton. And Bernie looks like he’s done. Now voters are going to want The Bachelor, Amazing Race and Survivor all rolled into one.

“Just as long as Hillary doesn’t have to sing.”

“She might just have to… to beat one of these,” he nodded at the television.

“I’d pay money to see that.”

The Future...?

The Future...?

Both men sat down in front of the flat screen television and watched in silence as the finalists were introduced to the public once more. The smiles evaporated. This was no laughing matter.

Chapter 13 – Judged

There was panic in the control room moments before the first Results Show went to air.

“What do you mean, you can’t find Penske?” Kristoff was furious. “He must be in the bathroom again. Knock on the door and tell him he’s on.”

In fact, Walter Penske was fast asleep in the Green Room, defying all attempts by his assistant to wake him.

Under no illusions why her boss was so hard to wake, she tried with all her might to move his buffalo frame to push him on stage. As she lifted his head, he belched into her face and she recoiled in disgust.

Thirty Seconds

“Dunk his head under water, blast him with smelling salts – give him a tumbler of Grey Goose – I don’t care, just get him into the studio in exactly thirty seconds,” Kristoff roared.

“He’s got vodka in his water glass. He’s sozzled,” the assistant explained. “The trouble is the less he has to do, the more he drinks.”

“Twenty seconds, Shirley. Or you’re fired.”

“Okay, okay.” She grabbed two burly security guards. “Each of you, take an arm and drag him in. He’ll come to when he sees the cameras and the lights.”

Drink Up

Drink Up

With literally a second to spare, Penske slumped in his seat, only perking up and smiling through raw, red eyes when Kristoff acknowledged the judges and teased viewers with the news: the results were in.

Penske gave a presidential wave, took a big slurp from his water glass and closed his eyes as soon as the lights went out for the next set of commercials.

Chapter 14 - And Then There Were Seven

Kristoff was back after the break to announce that a record number of iVotes had come in on the NoteStream app following the earthquake challenge.

The three contestants with the highest votes would be safe and go on to the next round - The iPrimaries.

“So, America, we’ve decided we can’t wait to get into the Oval Office proper - we’ve built our own.” Kristoff stepped aside and the curtains pulled back. Revealed behind him was a beautifully decorated room fitted with cream couches, blue and gold Regency-style chairs, all set on a pale blue and gold oval rug with an inlaid presidential seal. In front of the three narrow windows a wooden desk was positioned.

Oohs rang out from the audience.

Here Are…

“Please close the curtains.”

The curtains automatically closed and Kristoff waited for quiet. “America, you have delivered your verdict.” He used the same line he’d made famous on ‘StarStruck.’ “Here are your three favorite iCandidates…”

The curtains drew back, and this time Todd, Gillian and Grace were relaxing in the mock Oval Office, both women smiling happily on the couch facing the stage, while Todd perched in one of the chairs, looking rather presidential.

The sight was met with thunderous applause and Gillian couldn’t seem to help herself; she blew a kiss at the audience.

Playing God

“Walter Penske, how do you like our Oval Office?” Kristoff asked.

“Fitting, very fitting. Not bad at all. Well done.”

“Now it’s time to learn who else has made it into our final seven.” Kristoff walked stage left where the other five iCandidates were standing in a small group facing the audience.

Desmond had insisted the results should not be prolonged for effect, a trademark of ‘StarStruck’ and Kristoff’s other talent shows that traded on the discomfort of the contestants. Kristoff had protested. He loved knowing who was going out and withholding the information until the very last moment; it was like playing God.

Dignified

Dignified

But Desmond wanted the losing iCandidates to have a dignified exit. “This has to be different. It may be entertaining, but this is not entertainment. The likes of Trump and company are already turning the presidential selection process into a mockery.” He slammed his hand down on Kristoff’s desk. “We MUST be held to a higher standard. We may be a reality show, but we have a real purpose.”

Conviction

His argument was so impassioned and sincere that even Kristoff backed down.

They agreed to make the departures as simple, and as dignified as humanly possible.

“The iCandidates who will be joining Grace, Todd and Gillian in our Oval Office are

“Jennifer…

“Rich…

“Cameron…

At the calling of each name, a huge roar rang out from the studio audience and the surviving iCandidates walked across the stage to sit down on the couches in the Oval Office.

The Final Two

Only Tom and Dulce were left standing.

Kristoff positioned himself between them. He was a showman; he couldn’t help himself. Kristoff looked towards the judges table. He knew who to put on the spot. “Rob, which contestant deserves to survive another round?”

Rob leaned back in his chair, put his hands behind his head and studied the contestants. “This is hard, Andy. I think they both have such big hearts, and the Earthquake Challenge wasn’t easy.”

He stopped for a moment, and looked intently from one contestant to the other. “I’d like to see them both go through and get another chance.”

Make The Call

“Oh, for goodness sake, Rob, don’t be so diplomatic!”

Jacqueline Toscane cut in. “Just make the call!”

Rob put his hands up in mock surrender. “Hey, if you’re such an expert, Jacqueline, it’s all yours.”

Jacqueline rolled her eyes at Rob before looking at Kristoff.

“Tom should stay. I think the vote will go against Dulce because folks were confused about what went on during the earthquake. Dulce is obviously a very compassionate and caring person but, for whatever reason, she said she was going to help somebody and then never went back.

Perception

Politics is about perception, and to me, that didn’t look good.”

Jacqueline slowly tucked a lock of hair back behind her ear with a manicured hand. Her eyes softened as she looked at Dulce. “And I think the vote will reflect that.”

The camera zipped back to Kristoff, who looked down at his tablet as if he’d forgotten who got the lowest number of votes on NoteStream.

Desmond barked in his earpiece: “Get on with it!”

“Tom… the voters agreed with Jacqueline, you’re safe.”

A Bitter Pill

A Bitter Pill

The crowd’s reaction was mixed. Some of the public was clearly still unsure what to make of Tom and a big section in the studio had come from Texas to support Dulce. Tom, in a slightly overstretched, pale-blue twin set, reached out a hand to Dulce, and then awkwardly engulfed her in a bear hug. The mic picked up his whispered comments in her ear. “Dulce, so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Thank You

Then Tom walked slowly across the stage to join the others, who were overjoyed that he’d made it through.

Grace, Gillian and Cameron all jumped up to give him a hug.

Kristoff put his arm around Dulce. “We’re sorry to lose you Dulce. What would you like to say to everyone who voted for you?” Kristoff handed her the microphone.

“Thank you everyone for getting me this far. I really am grateful for this opportunity and I promise you, I didn’t forget the injured lady. It’s just that there were other hurt people there as well…at least I thought there were.”

She shrugged with a sad smile.

Next Week

“I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of Dulce,” Kristoff announced.

“She’s not a lady to ride off quietly into the sunset.”

There were no cheesy reality show farewells. An assistant ushered Dulce off stage right as the seven finalists were led back onstage where they received a standing ovation.

“Next week’s challenge is going to really test our remaining iCandidates. We have a big surprise in store for them with some incredible guests. I can’t tell you anything more about it…but it’s going to be tough to Trump!”

Kristoff winked into the closest camera.

Don’t Miss It!

“Whatever you do, don’t miss it!

Be ready to see two political worlds collide!

“Don’t forget, we’re changing the world…”

“…One iVote at a time,” the audience shouted back in unison.

“On behalf of our fabulous contestants and our judges, Walter Penske, Jacqueline Toscane and Rob Balfour, this is Andy Kristoff signing out from The iCandidate! Goodnight America !”

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