The iCandidate: 15th Installment cover

The iCandidate: 15th 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 1 review




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The iCandidate: 15th Installment

Chapter 37 - And Then There Were Five…

After the show, Jen left out the back. Avoiding the limos lined up to take the iCandidates to the Malibu White House, she tapped open the Uber app in her phone. A car was two minutes away. She was soon in the back of a Prius, on her way to The Mondrian on Sunset Boulevard.

Chrissie had called her from there a week ago. Jen hadn’t called back.

She could see that the driver recognized her and kept her head hunched over the iPhone, challenging him to say something. She tried calling Chrissie again - for the 23rd time that day - but it went straight to voicemail. No ringing. She tried texting, prayed for a reply, however terse.

Checking In

Jen told the Uber driver to wait outside and rushed over to the front desk. She noticed actor Ben Affleck checking in across the foyer, yet all the eyes were on The iCandidate. A middle-aged woman edged next to her and asked if she could take a selfie. Begrudgingly, Jen posed; she didn’t trust herself to say anything.

Opposite Result

“I’m afraid she checked out several days ago,” said a tight-faced young woman.

Jen held it together long enough to get back in the car. A ring alerted her to a text and she grabbed at her phone inside her purse. If she could just talk to Chrissie and try to explain...

It was two words. It wasn’t from Chrissie.

You’re toast

She’d been stupid, thinking the affair would somehow help her chances of winning The iCandidate. Instead, it had ruined them.

Some Of Her Own

Jen booked a room.

She couldn’t face going back to the White House where he could be waiting for her, eager to gloat and flaunt his power over her.

When she arrived at the studios the next evening, a host of TV pundits had already written her off. “Jen’s Breakdown” dominated the news headlines and entertainment shows with so-called experts explaining how the pressure had driven the “Ice Queen” to the edge of madness.

Jen’s former employee told CNN how she had fired him by text. “She wouldn’t meet me face-to-face; she was too much of a coward. Now she’s getting some of her own medicine,” he said on live TV.

Hair And Makeup

Tom was the first to spot her.

“Are you alright, love? You look terrible.” He smiled and ruffled her hair. “Might be a good idea to get down to hair and make-up. Andy’s on the warpath - he didn’t think you were going to show up.”

The other finalists gathered around, asking if she was okay. Jen didn’t want to talk; she just wanted to go home.

“So you’ve decided to grace us with your presence.” Desmond and Mase had warned Kristoff to be understanding if Jen arrived, but he couldn’t help himself. “Better get yourself cleaned up.” It wasn’t warm and fuzzy but it was the best that he could do.

Not Where You Think

Bernard Gagnon,(CC BY-SA 3.0)

Not Where You Think

“They’re already running the tapes.”

Most of the show was to be taken up with clips from the challenge.

Kristoff walked out to a noisy ovation. “We did rather mislead our contestants. They weren’t actually in the Middle East at all….they were in Twenty-Nine Palms, California, not so far away from Palm Springs.”

Reconsider

There were gasps from the studio audience.

“I think you’ll agree they all did extremely well.” Kristen paused for the applause.

“Perhaps we should consider your choices right now, America. The last man standing in the Republican nomination race is Donald Trump. Over on the Democrat side we have Bernie Sanders fighting a rearguard battle against the mighty Hillary Clinton. The way things stand, one of these three - and let’s face facts Bernie, it’s probably not going to be you - will be your President by this time next year.”

Boos rang out across the studio.

Real or Reality

“Or, perhaps you should consider the alternative.

Standing in the wings we have six men and women who are proving their mettle on this very show. You judge them every week; you’re getting to know them better than any other prospective politicians in history. We will lose another one this evening, I’m sad to say. Then another, then another.

“We will end up with The iCandidate. Truly the choice of the people. I’m going to ask you America, what’s the better choice - real or reality?

Huge Response

With that, the curtain closed on Kristoff and reopened a second later to swirling red, white, and blue lights, and the six remaining iCandidates seated on stools across the stage. Kristoff had decided to do away with the Oval Office for now.

He walked back on. “We are delighted to report we had a huge response - the biggest yet. You told us your three remaining favorites…

“And after our nationwide iVote, the iCandidate who will be going home is…”

Kristoff was distracted by Jen getting off her stool and walking towards him. She pulled his arm holding the microphone towards her, sparking static with her head mic that reverberated around the studio.

Time To Go

Time To Go

“It’s me,” she said softly. “It should be me.”

“I’m afraid that yes, it is Jen.” Kristoff put his free arm around her, unsure whether this was a mini-disaster or an iconic TV moment. “Jen will be going home tonight.”

“I’m sorry, Chrissie,” Jen said into the mic. “I love you.”

Chapter 38 – Making Amends

When Tariq told Zia he had delayed his flight from LAX, Zia assumed it would set back his trip to see Ayesha for a couple of hours, not a couple of weeks.

But Zia missed the last flight east that night and there was no way he could travel so far with his busy schedule until at least the end of the month.

He’d called the Harvard dorm countless times and even left messages with the Dean, but Ayesha never called back. Zia couldn’t blame her; he had stood her up.

Maybe An Answer

He threw himself into his job, trying to get his mind off Ayesha by working even longer hours.

It didn’t work. She was the first girl from Pakistan he had ever gone out with. There had been plenty of girls before but he’d never felt like this about someone he hardly knew.

As much as he wanted to please his father, even now, Zia had never quite understood why Tariq was so devoted to Pakistan when most of his life was spent in the United States. In Ayesha, he felt he may have found the answer to that particular puzzle.

Just thinking about her left a hole in his heart that would take a country to fill.

Delayed

Delayed

He settled back into his seat in the front of the plane and wished the hours away. It was a five-hour flight to Boston, and a 20-minute taxi ride to Harvard. Then he would beg her to forgive him.

As he closed his eyes and tried to imagine their reunion, Zia realized he still hadn’t seen Ayesha’s face.

Chapter 39 – Passing Ships

Zia ran up the dorm stairs two at a time.

He had a bouquet of flowers and a pay-as-you-go cellphone as gifts. He just wanted to explain what had happened. Perhaps then she’d agree to take a walk with him and get that hot chocolate he’d promised her.

But there was nobody in Ayesha’s room. None of the students he asked in the study room knew anything about her. The only thing Zia could think to do was wait for her on the bench where they met on their first date.

Gone

He’d been sitting there for a while, peering at the Cambridge streets through the iron gates when he saw one of the Pakistani boys his father’s foundation was sponsoring. Zia jumped up and ran after the boy, startling him.

“Assalamu Alaykum, Bilal,” he said, out of breath and still clutching the flowers. “Have you seen Ayesha?”

The boy, about 18 or 19, frowned at Zia and answered him in Urdu.

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand, ” Zia replied.

Bilal tried again. His English was good. “She’s gone.”

Two Hours

“Where?” Zia felt panicked.

“Karachi.”

“But she’s supposed to be here for the year! She…”

“She left today. She hates America.”

The surly teen carried on walking and Zia ran after him, grabbing his arm. “When did she go? Did you see her?”

“She doesn’t talk to me. I saw her with bags leaving with the blonde woman. Maybe two hours ago.”