The iCandidate: 17th Installment
To begin with Installment 1, please click here.
The iCandidate is a guilty pleasure - 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 - and it keeps the authors on their toes!
In the novel, serialized weekly only 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, and really, would it be any crazier than what we've got now?
Change America one iVote at a time - and cheer on your iCandidate! Be sure to cast your in-app iVotes to save your favorite iCandidates!
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 43 - Cross Stressing
Tom rarely slept more than a few hours a night.
He’d seen the Marine enter his room and the Marine saw that he saw. His mind played havoc in the early hours; Tom thought that perhaps the soldier was coming for him, that maybe a man dressed up as a woman wasn’t somebody the higher-up’s wanted as President of the United States.
The Marine put his finger to his lips and smiled. For some reason that made Tom feel better. When people got killed on TV, the assassin was usually more businesslike about it.
The intruder pushed his hands down to signal Tom to remain calm. It appeared important to remain quiet.
Tom figured there wasn’t much he could do about if the guy wanted to kill him, so he lay back on the pillow and went back to hoping he wasn’t embarrassing his family by crossdressing on network television.
He must have nodded off because when the red phone went off he jerked up so abruptly he almost fell out of bed.
Answering the phone, he looked up at the Marine. He was still smiling. Not unkindly.
“I’ll stay here in DC,” Tom said. “But everybody else has to go, including my fellow iCandidates.”
“What do you mean by everybody?” asked the disembodied voice.
“I mean a full evacuation, including the emergency services. They can organize it, and then pull out of DC themselves. I want the National Guard taking charge of the city.”
“You seem very sure.”
The voice wasn’t questioning. It was a statement of fact. “The serviceman will show you to the Oval Office.”
“I am sure.” Tom threw a jacket over his unisex pajamas. “My predecessor in Colorado waited too long to order evacuations after getting a tornado warning and three people died. It sounds like the price for a delay here might be much worse.
“It’s important for the President to show people he’s not running scared. If it ends badly, so be it. It’s not like other people couldn’t do the job. Four of my fellow iCandidates would do just fine.”
Chapter 44 - Flash In The Pan
When Cameron answered the phone his voice sounded firm and his thoughts were clear.
Logic suggested he should take Air Force One to a safer place and orchestrate the response from there.
As he talked to the stranger on the red phone, doubts that had been gnawing inside him for days dominated.. Am I all talk with nothing to really back it up - all flash and no substance?
In his career, and in his life, it had all been about flash. It was his calling card. If people wanted flash, they’d call Cameron Banks.
Watching Donald Trump in the presidential nomination race had frightened Cameron; he saw too much of himself in the opportunistic real estate mogul. The thought didn’t make him feel better; it depressed the hell out of him.
Cameron told the caller crisply that he would be heading straight over to Air Force One. “It should be fully fueled,” he added. Pulling on his suit, and ignoring the Marine in the room, Cameron took a few extra seconds ruffling in some hair product and carefully combing it into place.
Millions of lives are at risk and I’m making sure I look good to save the world.
The confidence he’d relied on his whole life was slowly replaced by self-loathing. When he looked at people like Grace, Todd, and Gillian, even Tom, he felt himself lacking.
Cameron was climbing into the mock presidential jet when he realized he had forgotten to order any kind of nuclear evacuation.
The only person he was saving was himself.
Chapter 45 - A Helping Hand
Todd chose to speak first to his Cabinet and got straight to the point.
He knew they were all actors, but that didn’t mean he was going to act like this didn’t matter.
“So are you all up to speed?” he asked them.
“Not really,” said a balding man who claimed to be the Secretary of State.
“What’s the ETA on the missile?”
“I’ll need to check with the generals, sir. As I understand it, we are not certain where the missile is being launched from.”
“Why not?” thundered Todd, realizing he should have gone straight to the generals. “Do you have any guidance? Any of you?”
The members of the Cabinet shook their heads; Todd was about to dismiss them when his phone buzzed in his pocket. He discreetly looked down to see a one-word text: Evacuate.
He quickly hit delete, just as he had with his earlier text that morning.
“One last thing gentlemen, since you do not feel comfortable offering me advice, can you please make certain that the greater DC area is completely evacuated within the hour? Thank you. Can I now please speak to the military chiefs?”
Todd was beginning to think that maybe he’d made the wrong decision by staying at the White House.
Tactical vs Strategic
If there was a bomb it wasn’t supposed to blow up the president. But to cut and run to Air Force One now would look like cowardice. He made a snap decision. To hell with it, I’ll bomb them first.
Todd was quickly connected to the generals. “If you had to put a percentage on the intel’s accuracy, what would it be?”
“Ninety to one-hundred percent,” the chairman replied confidently. “If you want to go ahead on a first strike basis, we would urge you to use a tactical weapon rather than a strategic one. There would be far fewer casualties, but the message would be the same.”
The general to the chairman’s right asked: “Did you intend to speak to the Korean leader first? I am told he is making himself available.”
“No, I do not believe in negotiating with terrorists and enemy regimes.”
“Yes, sir,” the chairman replied and Todd imagined he saw a new glint of respect in the veteran soldier’s eyes before the screen went blank again.
Todd pulled the biscuit codes out of his wallet and stood up. “I want to know exactly how I do this. Run it through for me one more time, would you?” he said to the waiting Marine, who had the nuclear football sitting on his lap.
Chapter 46 – Oh God!
Gillian was struggling to get her point across through an interpreter after a man was introduced to her as North Korean President Kim Jong Un.
“Our nuclear plant is purely for energy. We have no interest in manufacturing weapons,” he told her through an unseen woman translator.
“We must talk further. You cannot even think of doing such a terrible thing without at least understanding my position,” she said.
“But we do not launch atomic bomb to America. You are misinformed.”
“We have incontrovertible proof that you have, or you are about to, fire a nuclear weapon. I don’t see how you can argue that.” Gillian was becoming increasingly frustrated by his denials.
“That is not the case. Your intelligence is misplaced. We request of the United States that you end the sanctions punishing our people. Then perhaps we do not send weapon if there is one.”
“But you said you haven’t launched a warhead.”
“Exactly. And we are demanding an end to all sanctions. We want peace and good energy for the people, we don’t want war.”
No More Games
“Look, my friend,” Gillian tried again. “If you are threatening the United States, as I think perhaps you are, and if you are sending a WMD in our direction, then you will force us to take precautionary action. In plain English, we will destroy your country. But I don’t want to do that. I don’t want innocent people to die, so what can you tell me to help you?”
Question Of Belief
“The North Korean people believe in their supreme leader to make the right decisions. Perhaps you will trust the lives of your people to your God.”
“Let’s leave God out of this shall we?” Gillian responded curtly.
In the studio, Desmond was pulling the strings. This challenge was his baby. Sitting next to the South Korean actor playing the North Korean leader, he held up a piece of paper on which he’d scribbled: Does she believe in God?
“Well…are you going to put YOUR trust in God?” The actor did what he was told.
“I trust in myself to make the right decision here. Not your God or any other God for that matter.”
“So you don’t believe in any God.”
“I don’t believe any God is going to help us now if you drop an atomic bomb.” The moment she said it she knew she’d made a massive mistake. What president would ever admit to not believing in God? It was suicide.
Gillian tried to hold it together and push on. “I need you to tell me you will not attack the United States. Then maybe we can talk.”
“It’s not for America to draw line. With or without a God.”
Gillian was doing her best to follow what she thought was the correct protocol.
If she was going to break a lifetime’s worth of principles, and order the deployment of an atomic bomb, she was going to make damn sure she’d covered all her bases.
She was by no means convinced that the threat was genuine. Had she missed something? Was there a question she could have asked that would have made everything suddenly clear? She doubted it.
“I need to know exactly how sure you are that a nuclear weapon is trained on DC.” She’d put the North Korean president on hold to talk to the Pentagon.
“We have some unimpeachable intelligence,” the joint chief’s chairman said.
“So, can you tell me more - as in, from who and where?
“I am afraid we don’t know, ma’am.”
She tried the cabinet.
Time was running out. “I need to know from the Defense Minister, do you have any information that I may have missed that gives us any kind of validation for the information that a nuclear strike will destroy part of Washington in about 25 minutes?”
“I think you’re aware of all the relevant information,” he said with a dry cough. “As I think the military has explained to you, we have verifiable intel, but no confirmation.”
“So you are not absolutely certain.”
“No, not 100%.”
Chapter 47 - Tick
Grace wasn’t having much more luck.
“I will launch a nuclear strike against your capital if you don’t give me your absolute undertaking that you have not – or are not planning – to attack Washington,” she said, her patience wearing desperately thin.
“We are peaceful nation,” the North Korean President responded. “You the aggressor.” She’d been on the videoconference for 5 minutes and hadn’t gotten anywhere.
“I am assured by the general in my country that you are firing a nuclear warhead at Washington. Unless I hear anything to the contrary in the next 45 minutes, I am going to unleash hell on Pyongyang. Do you understand?
I don’t know about you, but I am definitely not bluffing. This is your last chance.”
“This is your last chance,” the actor playing Kim Jong Un smiled inanely.
“Please get me the Cabinet.” Grace switched off the screen.
“More specifically, I want the Defense Secretary. I’m not going to play games with American lives.”