The iCandidate: 22nd 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 64 – HOME CHALLENGE
The opening credits ran straight into a shot of a large barn resting in the middle of a field.
As the camera zoomed closer, the doors opened to reveal a concrete floor, high beamed ceilings and whitewashed walls. In the corner stood the remaining four contestants, waiting silently behind bench tables.
Tom removed a wad of notes from a briefcase. He ripped the paper seal and thumbed the $100 bills. He laid them back down, picking up another and then another; his fingers deftly removing the paper from the top layer until she had counted one hundred bundles of $10,000.
One Million Dollars
A cool one million dollars.
He glanced at Grace who had been doing the same, but now was putting her money into piles, her face rapt in concentration. Cameron to his left hadn’t opened his briefcase yet. He had a bruise over his eye that had turned an ugly shade of purple. He looked worried.
Todd was scribbling notes and tucking them into each bank of bills. He took a deep breath.
A long line of people carrying signs and poster entered the warehouse, as an ear-splitting horn signaled for them to begin. Each iCandidate had a million dollar budget; all they had to do was decide how to spend it.
Grace started to run and was hit hard on her right side by one of the newcomers, her money scattering across the floor. She wanted to cry, but crying would only take up precious time. She collided with Todd who looked as surprised as she.
Collecting himself, he offered his hand, which she gratefully took. He then sped off in the opposite direction. Grace managed to limp across the vast space and find her first objective.
“Okay, okay, I can do this,” she said to herself. She deposited $100,000 in a large black safe and immediately a neon light shot vertically above her head and onto a screen: HEALTH, $100,000.
There was a series of similar looking safes scattered all around the barn, each with a flashing neon side towering over it.
The one for ECONOMY/JOBS showed $250,000. Another for EDUCATION shot up from $50,000 to $150,000 moments after Tom and Todd sprinted forward to deposit their cash.
Fighting To Stay Alive
As each deposit was made, the various categories flashed to life, with a whooping sound and ribbons of color zipping across the screen. HOMELAND SECURITY/DEFENSE showed $40,000. HEALTH went up again to $180,000. INTEREST ON DEFICIT: $200,000. FOREIGN AID: $30,000.
The scene switched back to the studio where Kristoff walked to the judge’s table to stand next to Jacqueline Toscane.
“While the contestants are fighting to stay in this competition, would you like to explain to our voters at home, in your inimitable style, the purpose of this challenge and the insanity which beholds us, Jacqueline?”
“Of course. I’d be delighted. This is our Home Challenge. The government spent $3.5 trillion this year of taxpayer money on the domestic programs it has to sustain. This challenge is not, I repeat not supposed to duplicate the amounts the government spent. Anyone of us can pull the actual figures from the Internet; the breakdown is on your screen as we speak.
We’re challenging our contestants to a more instinctive test. We’ve given each of them a budget - a token sum of $1 million. A mini budget if you will.
“Their job is to disperse this money between the programs that mean the most to them, the causes that they would fight for if they were in office. Equally important, at the end of this challenge, our studio audience will be asked to cast their vote, only this time we’re not asking the audience to vote for a contestant, but for the programs you want your money spent on. ”
Jacqueline turned back to the camera.
“You, too, viewers. We want to know what domestic issues are nearest and dearest to your life, your family, and your heart. So, be ready to vote at the end of the show.”
“Well done, Jacqueline. Is there anything else we need to know?”
“Yes, one thing the contestants mustn’t forget, of course, is that we are charging them interest on this money, so they must not fail to budget for that. Our government spends more on debt interest than it does on any program within the Treasury and they have to account for that.”
“Thank you, Jacqueline.”
“Why couldn’t they just do it here in the studio?” Walter Penske asked gruffly.
“Good question,” Kristoff said. “We thought we would add a little spice to this challenge, and for that we needed lots of space! Our government should never forget that it’s not their money they are spending; it’s our money, YOUR money, America.
For that reason, the contestants are being approached by representatives of you, the people, townsfolk with powerful voices, who are not afraid to share their opinions. They want to persuade our contestants to choose their interests, above all else.”
CHAPTER 65 – ADDING UP
The camera switched back to the barn. Cameron watched his three colleagues racing around the hall like in a sped up cartoon. His head was banging like a jackhammer. Hundreds of men and women walked back and forth in the center of the hall, holding placards depicting their arguments on domestic policies.
Make It Loud
They were not allowed to stop the contestants physically as they came through them, but could make their verbal appeals as loud and aggressive as they liked. Tom dodged around a woman whose placard read:
HELP ME STAY IN MY HOME. STOP THE INSANE BANK CHARGES.
Cameron wasn’t so bothered by the protestors; he had to get over the fact that when it came to math, even on his best day, his mind would go completely blank. And this wasn’t a good day.
More No More
Grace was caught in a back and forth dance as she tried to skirt around a man whose sign read:
TAKE US OUT OF THE RED! NO MORE BORROWING FROM CHINA.
Back at her station, her hands trembling, Grace couldn’t make up her mind where to put her final deposit. Finally, she launched into action, heading to her left and being instantly surrounded by a group of college students protesting the rise in tuition. “WE NEED MORE GRANTS,” they chanted.
Grace ducked under their banner, depositing the last of her money in one of the safes.
“We are in the last seconds of this challenge,” Kristoff raised his voice over the commotion. “Todd is finished, and he looks pretty happy with himself, Grace is making a last deposit, Cameron has completely lost it - I can’t even begin to understand what happened there - and where is Tom?”
The camera searched the hall, finding Tom in deep debate with a group demonstrating against cuts to Social Security benefits.
He looked totally at home, shaking hands and smiling with the previously agitated protestors. The horn sounded again and everything stopped.
Three briefcases sat empty on the tables, but the fourth still held at least $100,000.
“Ladies and gentlemen, that challenge was shot earlier today, just one hour out of town.” Back in the studio, Kristoff stood alone on the stage. “They’ve made it back so please welcome fresh from their challenge in Ventura County, your iCandidate finalists!”
CHAPTER 66 – TAKING A BEATING
The American flag dissolved to reveal Tom and Grace hugging as they moved forward, flanked by Todd and Cameron. The entire audience stood to give them a standing ovation.
“Now this is where it all gets really interesting,” Kristoff announced. “First, each of our friends should talk about the policies they spent the most money on and why.
Up on the big screen, you will also see a breakdown showing exactly where their money went. As soon as they have had their say, it’s America’s turn to show what they think the country’s priorities should be.
Tom and Grace
“The candidate most out of sync with the public is the one who will leave us. So Tom, you first…in a sentence please”
“I hope that America agrees with me when I say that the youth are our future; education comes next, followed closely by the economy and the deficit.”
“Now Grace, what’s your rationale?”
“My two biggest issues are cutting the deficit and creating jobs. That’s why I allocated so much to cover the interest charges rather than fall deeper in debt to China and other foreign governments. I believe the best way to get new jobs is to spend more on key areas like education and health.”
Todd and Cameron
“Your turn, Todd. Keep it brief please.”
“We don’t need to pour taxpayer money into the health system or even into education. Both are unwieldy already and need to become more financially viable. The number one priority is the economy, and our boys in the military, and, of course, we must pay our debt!”
“I think we have to remember that our home isn’t just the country we live in, we need to care for each other around the world, too. So, I allocated 30% of my budget to foreign aid and 25% to health. These are closest to my heart.”
“Jacqueline, any last thoughts?” Kristoff paced the stage. “A brief summing up?
“Of course. Well, I’m a big fan of Grace. I admire her tenacity and her consistency and she keeps a cool head. That’s critical in a leader. Tom isn’t scared to show his individualism. He has strong convictions. But I have to say I’m noticing Todd more and more. He’s gathering quite a big following.”
Spontaneous cheers and whistles erupted from the audience. “See what I mean?”
“Why is that do you think?” Kristoff asked.
“He has natural charm which is a plus, of course, and he really knows his stuff. He may be young but he knows his own mind. Most importantly his stand is always clear. There’s no confusion.” She paused, shaking her head. “Cameron, I’m sorry, you were all over the place, my darling.”
Kristoff took over. “You didn’t get to spend all of the money Cameron, let alone pay the deficit. Dare I suggest that your mind might have been elsewhere? Care to explain what happened last night?”
Everyone was still talking about Cameron’s altercation – except Cameron.
“Just a little misunderstanding, I’m afraid.” There was no point trying to explain. He suspected the whole thing was a setup , but he was never going to be able to prove it.
It was bad enough getting beat up - now he’d totally blown the challenge.
“My math skills are pretty bad.” He figured he’d get out of it with as much dignity as he could manage. “But I’m counting on having a few clever advisors when I get to the White House. Just as long as they’re single of course…”
He made a half-hearted attempt at flirting into the camera, but no-one seemed to be buying it, least of all him…
CHAPTER 67 – MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION
“So, studio audience, using your iVote device embedded in your arm rest, we’re giving you each a cool $1 million to spend on the programs of your choice.
You have the same challenge as the contestants. The difference is you can spend from the comfort of your seat,” Kristoff explained.
“Don’t forget, you won’t be voting for the iCandidates, you will be voting for the programs.
On your screens are the categories, listed in no particular order. We want you to click on your top three choices, so if you want to contribute to Kristoff’s pension fund, you would click Kristoff as one of your entries.
Oops, did I say Kristoff? Good try, eh? Good try!
Don't forget about interest on the debt too.
Don’t pull a Cameron and get sidetracked. Sorry, Cameron.”
Kristoff loved being in the spotlight.
He waited for the camera to zoom in for a close up.
“Everyone at home, you know what to do. To finish off our show tonight, here’s Rob and the Legacy with one of their biggest hits, ‘Queen of the Road!’ We’ll be back tomorrow night with your results.
“Now America… VOTE!”