iCandidate: 26th 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 79 - And Then There Was One
The ratings had gone through the roof.
“Tonight, I can tell you that a record number of people voted for our three iCandidates on NoteStream,and there are but a handful of votes dividing them!” Kristoff announced. “Now that is democracy in action.”
“In third place…Tom Jodes.
Tom stepped forward looking unusually bashful.
“Forgive me America,” he smiled, his voice wavering. “What kind of goon starts to cry at a moment like this? A big soppy girl, that’s all. Wait, that’s me! You know how I feel about being here, I’ve said it all before. You know, too, how touched I am that you accepted me, I mean look at me! But you carried me throughout this amazing journey to the final three.”
He paused and looked around the room, his eyes glistening. “You looked through the bad wig and polyester dress and you saw me, you got me. You are testaments to my faith in the American people. For those who say Americans are blinkered or narrow-minded, I say, look at me! You gave me a chance to shine. I’ll always love you for that.”
Tom looked out into the audience. “My home town of Rayville is not perfect by any means. We went through a rough time in the recession, and people worried about their jobs. Some of the sidewalks are the devil to walk down in heels and the entertainment doesn’t match up to theses big city lights.
But the one thing I hope for is that none of the people in our town feel alone. We don’t just love our guns and our religion. We care for one another.”
This was a different Tom compared to the wisecracking Mayor the public was used to.
“If I was President, that would be one of my main platforms. It’s not a question of small towns versus big cities. Either can be as embracing or as lonely as we make it.
In my opinion as an ex-iCandidate contestant there is nothing more important than being with your friends and family through the good times and the bad.”
The studio erupted with cheering and clapping as Tom embraced Grace and Todd before turning back to the audience.
“On that final note, it has been an immense honor to share this stage with the remaining contestants. I know with absolute certainty that you will find an iCandidate who will lead this country to greatness - and that, I’d bet my pantyhose on!”
As he left the stage, Desmond beckoned Tom into his office.
Perhaps the journey isn’t over after all, Tom thought.
“Thank you for being a part of this incredible process to revolutionize the way politics occurs in America. You, the people, watched, you listened, and you voted!” Kristoff paused, and everyone waited. Not a whisper could be heard, just the slight crackle of the sound system, as Kristoff raised the microphone to his lips.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, our first winner and The iCandidate for 2016 is….
When Kristoff read out the final results, Todd was so convinced he’d won that he stepped forward to shake the host’s hand before it struck home that it wasn’t his name he’d heard.
Equally dumbstruck, Grace started applauding Todd, as her iCandidate colleagues mobbed her in a flurry of red, white, and blue confetti.
Jacqueline walked out in the middle of the chaos and fought to be heard above the noise.
“As everybody now knows, our iCandidate winner, Grace Conwright, will be representing the new iCan Party as its presidential nominee in the forthcoming election, with Todd as her running mate.”
Todd waved at the crowd, trying desperately not to show his disappointment.
“Tonight,” Jacqueline continued, “I’m excited to share with you an announcement that we have been keeping secret the entire show.
But now, it is my absolute pleasure to inform you that Grace Conwright, the people’s choice for The iCandidate, will have an election fund of $100 million at her campaign’s disposal to put her on an equal footing with her opponents.”
For two or three seconds there was a stunned silence as the words sunk in.
Mason smiled out from the control room.
That’ll grab Washington’s attention.
Chapter 80 - Woodstock
The cars crept in throughout the night in a long, slow crawl into a perfect Great Plains summer.
Every hotel within 100 miles was full; a vast campsite in a farmer’s field was already heaving with Gore-Tex, and it was still a full 24 hours before the first iCan Party Convention was scheduled to begin just outside the small, north-central town of Lebanon, Kansas.
Campers took turns getting photographed by a stone marker with an American Flag that told anyone who was interested that they were in the exact geographic center of the lower 48 states at 39.50 Latitude and 98.35 Longitude.
“This is so sick. It must be what it felt like to be at Woodstock.” Mason looked out across the mass of people. It was his idea to hold the iCampaign’s launch party in the center of the heartland, and he’d been losing sleep ever since worrying whether people would come.
Desmond and Jacqueline pushed hard for Washington, insisting it was the only location if they wanted to be taken seriously. Kristoff wanted to stay put in Los Angeles, to cement the idea in the public’s mind that the iCandidate was born from this unique meeting point between politics and entertainment.
But Mason prevailed this time, as the four friends stood together in the large ay window of the hill-top hotel suite Kristoff had booked, providing a great view of the scene below them.
“It’s so easy to fall back now and start copying what the other campaigns are doing,” he had told them as the scale of the incredible political pilgrimage unfolded in front of them.
“People want something different. They want to be excited about politics again. They don’t want all the ugliness they saw in Cleveland and Philadelphia.”
“I’m a believer Mace,” Kristoff agreed. “Except I‘m having trouble believing that this many people are already here and we have another day before we get under way. It’s awesome.”
“Calls for a celebration don’t you think?” Desmond said, and walked across the the bar, and opened a bottle of champagne. “You were right Mace. This venue is perfect! Good job!” Desmond couldn’t contain his excitement.
“Well, we still have a long way to go,” Jacqueline took the glass and stared out of the window. “But I have to admit, this turnout is amazing. I’m actually stunned.”
Kristoff raised his glass. “A toast to Grace… It’s not going to be easy to beat the Democrats and the Republicans, but let’s show the the non-believers what we are made of. Let’s take it all the way to the White House!” The four clinked their glasses, murmuring "To the White House", and "to Grace".
Grace, Todd and the other iCandidates were staying in the large house belonging to the farmer who’d given them his land to use for the convention.
In his new role as iCampaign Manager, Kristoff’s initial inclination was to keep the team holed up before introducing them in a blaze of lights and sound on stage.
But with Mason’s ‘change’ philosophy ringing in his ears, he decided to do the exact opposite: all eight of the iCandidates had been happily wandering amongst the growing crowds ever since they arrived the day before.
Kristoff could see Rich and Tom laughing with people lining up for the portable toilets on one side of the field. By the house, Gillian was holding a baby and talking with the parents. Over by the food tent, Dulce was happily chatting with a group of teenagers.
Cameron, dressed in designer jeans and a white button down shirt that emphasized his lean, muscular physique, leaned against the stage, surrounded by a group of panting women desperate for his autograph, or just a word with their idol. At times, he tried to disengage himself, eager to mingle with the rest of the crowd, but he never managed to move more than a few feet without being mobbed again.
“It’s going to be an incredible day tomorrow,” Kristoff said. “Can I persuade you to stick around, Des?”
Not Going Away
“No, I’m heading home to work on the technical aspects of the campaign funding. There’s going to be an almighty shit storm once the Democrats and Republicans realize we’re not going away. I’m amazed we haven’t had more crap to deal with already.”
By mid-afternoon the following day, when Rob Balfour’s band, Legacy, launched into its second encore, a rainstorm gave it an authentic Woodstock feel as it soaked the audience singing familiar anthems.
The clouds parted just in time for the real stars to take their turn on the convention stage.
One By One
One by one, the iCandidates addressed the cheering crowd, delighting them as each explained their role in the iCampaign and spelled out the iCan Party message: how the people who voted for them on the show had given them a voice.
Speaking in the order in which they departed The iCandidate, Dulce (Outreach Director) was first up to say that she intended to ensure Latinos were represented at the very highest levels of government.
Grace stood in the wings, congratulating each of them as they finished.
Rich (National Field Director), Jennifer (Communications Director), Tom (National Press Secretary), Cameron (Battleground States Director), and Gillian (Senior Adviser) each told the story of how they came to try out for the show, and how the show had changed their lives.
Jennifer revealed an emotional side towards the end of her speech. She had her hair in soft curls, and some people in the crowd didn’t even recognize her at first.
“So we will drag the antiquated political system, kicking and screaming if we have to, into a better world, an enlightened world and we will do it in the very capable hands of Grace Conwright.
She is brilliant, innovative, compassionate, and in this race for each and every one of you. I am honored to work as Communications Director for the iCan Party and I am proud of you all for being apart of our vision.”
Grace hugged her as she walked off stage.
“I don’t know what you did with the old Jennifer, but I’m loving the new one.” Grace was visibly moved.
“Don’t get carried away, and for goodness sake, don’t get mushy on me.” Jennifer smoothed her black linen suit that Grace had crushed in the embrace. “Ugh, I’m going to have to get this suit pressed again.”
Grace was unperturbed. “Thank you, Jennifer, for what you said.”
A faint glimmer of a smile crossed her lips. “You’re welcome.”
Cameron finished his speech and swaggered off stage carrying a teddy bear and flowers thrown on the stage.
Grace looked disapprovingly at him. “Perhaps you could remember that this is a political convention not a rock festival, Cameron.”
“Ah, I see you missed me, Conwright. Come on admit it, you’re happy to see me.”
Grace was happy to see him, but she was never going to tell him that.
“Just do your job, and I’ll be happy.”
Enjoying the banter, he replied: “I love it when you’re stern.”
Todd appeared at Grace’s shoulder. He kept insisting he wasn’t going to spend the entire campaign trying to steal her thunder. Now she was going to find out. “Okay, it’s my turn. Ready to be amazed, Grace?”
“I don’t know, am I?”
He was like a puppy, determined to win Grace over. “ I’ll get them warmed up and you can finish them off.”
Todd went off script and got the biggest welcome of the day with a savage attack on the Washington gridlock. “The people's right to change what doesn’t work is one of the greatest principles of our system of government.
It was Richard Nixon who said that,” Todd shouted over the more exuberant fans. “But it sums up why we in the iCan Party feel so empowered by you, the people, to change the way our government works.”
And then it was Grace’s turn.
Chapter 81 - Grace
It was nearly 9:00 p.m. before Grace walked out into a single bright spotlight to the sound of Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner. Kristoff knew Mason would enjoy the Woodstock tribute.
At first, Grace appeared dumbstruck at the staggering size of her support and she seemed to have lost her nerve when she walked quickly back into the wings, only to emerge leading the rest of the iCandidates behind her.
They all stood clapping in the middle of the stage along with the crowd as Grace stepped forward to the microphone, simply elegant in a cream Ralph Lauren dress.
Quietly at first, Grace talked about how her parents were gunned down in cold blood on a stage such as this; murdered for their beliefs by an unseen menace that thought power was too dangerous in the hands of the people.
Gathering force and volume, Grace vowed that she, too, would give her life to protect America’s freedoms if she was required to.
“Thinking for yourself doesn’t mean you’re not thinking about each other”, she explained. “The very foundations of this country come from our forefathers traveling across the ocean, in great peril, for the opportunity to live in freedom, in a land where everybody has a voice, not just the rich or the privileged."
"We have created a nation of different cultures and different races and I pledge to you all tonight that I will do everything in my power to ensure those voices are heard again.”
A New America
It was quiet out in the crowd. Grace said that after the death of her parents, she thought she could survive by looking after herself, creating a smaller world and making sure she was okay in her little piece of it.
“But I was wrong. As Tom told you earlier, it is our families, our friends, and our communities that make us who we are. This is a new America. It’s about breaking down the barriers and abandoning all the prejudices of the past.
This is not Donald Trump’s Republican Party; it’s not Hillary Clinton’s Democrats. In the iCan Party you can be anti-guns and pro-life, against same-sex marriage and for gays in the military. It’s all about individual views, coming together.
So America, we’ve been waiting for change to come for too long now. But we’re not here to seek blame, we’re here to claim ownership of our destinies. We are all responsible for our own dreams, our own happiness, and our own future. So who can do this?”
“iCan,” came back the resounding chorus.
“That’s right – and I can, too. The New World has finally come of age. Washington just hasn’t realized it yet. But they will. I promise you that!” Grace told the roaring, jubilant crowd, as night fell on middle America.