The iCandidate: 29th Installment cover

The iCandidate: 29th Installment

By ,


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!





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The iCandidate: 29th Installment

Chapter 89 – The Ultimatum

The internal phone buzzed in Ayesha’s dorm room at 8:00 p.m. The only person she knew who could be visiting so late was Zia. Her heart quickened as she picked up the receiver and pressed the button to answer.

The voice at the other end sounded like Zia. But it wasn’t him.

“Hello, Ayesha. I’m so sorry to trouble you so late in the evening but I was just passing and wondered if we could have a quick chat. I should probably introduce myself, I…”

Private

Private

Ayesha recognized the voice as Zia’s father. “I know who you are, sir,” she interrupted. “If you could just give me a couple of minutes I can come down and meet you in reception.”

“That’s quite alright. I’ll come up. Privacy would be better.”

Jumpy

She’d been jumpy since the strange confrontation with Bilal, but it’s not like Zia’s father was going to attack her or anything. He probably wanted to get to know her a little better, if she was going to date his son.

“Of course.” Ayesha pulled on a sweatshirt and did her best to straighten her hair while throwing the clothes strewn on the bed and around the room into her closet. This wasn’t how she’d planned to meet Zia’s father.

Five minutes later there was a tap on the door and Ayesha showed Tariq into the tiny kitchen area she shared with Alma. His black hair was swept back, and he was meticulously dressed in a pinstriped suit.

Grateful

She felt embarrassed offering him one of their two plain wooden chairs.

“Oh, don’t feel bad at all. I had a room exactly like this when I was a Masters student here. Had a wonderful time!”

The only time Ayesha had met him was at the Harvard alumni reception when she first met Zia. He was much more casual and friendly this time, settling into the chair and accepting her offer of something to drink.

“So, Ayesha, how are your studies going?”

“Really good, thank you, sir. I’m very grateful for the opportunity.” She was still standing, unsure what was expected of her.

Proud

He smiled, loosening his tie. “That’s wonderful. I know Karachi, and I know about the colony where you are from. You have come a very long way. Your parents must be very proud.”

Ayesha nodded. She didn’t know what to say.

“Are your studies keeping you very busy? I’m sure they must be. Education is so important.” He looked at her for confirmation. He could see what his son saw in her. She was, indeed, very beautiful. “I’m sure you must understand that my son is also very busy. It wouldn’t be good for him to have any diversions right now.”

Fairy Tale

Fairy Tale

“Yes, sir, but…”

Tariq put up a hand to silence her. “I understand that this must be a very attractive situation for you. You go from the ghetto to Harvard, meet your American prince and live happily ever after. What an incredible fairy story, eh?”

No More

“It’s not really like that.” Ayesha felt the shift.

Tariq’s smile was gone. “My son told me about you and we agreed that he would no longer see you. We both feel it’s for the best.”

“But that can’t be…”

“Oh but it is, Miss Ayesha. I felt it was necessary to see you on my son’s behalf and to offer you an added incentive to do the right thing just in case you have mistaken his intentions. He can be impulsive when it comes to women.”

Confused

Ayesha hadn’t heard from Zia for a couple of days but he’d told her he’d be buried with work. Now she didn’t know what to think.

Tariq carried on. “I will arrange for your family to move out of Machar Colony and into a house in one of Karachi’s nicer suburbs. You don’t have to thank me.” He got up to leave and the smile was back. “It will be my pleasure.”

“But I thought you approved. Because I am from Pakistan.” Ayesha couldn’t believe it. “He told me you were in favor of our courtship.”

Origins

“It’s because you are from Pakistan that I don’t approve,” he said without attempting to explain any further. “But you are from our country. You understand these things. Sometimes families just don’t…work together. We have different expectations.”

A cold fury seized Ayesha. “If I’m not good enough for you, or your precious son, that’s one thing – that’s your choice.” Her lips were quivering so hard she could barely get the words out. “But I am not for sale, and neither is my family. Now would you please leave!”

Gone

Gone

He was already at the door. It didn’t matter if she accepted his offer; in fact, he was impressed she hadn’t. Under different circumstances she might have made a good bride for his son. But right now, that didn’t matter.

“I’d prefer it if you didn’t contact my son again,” he said, closing the door behind him. “Believe me, it’s for the best.”

Chapter 90 - Out of the Rough

As the iCan Party gained momentum so, too, did the attack ads attempting to shut the campaign down before it did any more damage.

“We’re getting killed.” Desmond was standing with the rest of the gang on the 5th green of the Pelican Bay Golf Course in Newport Coast, California. “We need to fight back and hit the other candidates as hard as they’re hitting us. Politics is a cutthroat business – we need to get a little dirty.”

The four decided to keep the game on their calendars as an opportunity to discuss the latest iCandidate crisis, and the impasse they’d reached with Grace over the handling of the iCampaign.

No Use

“It’s no use, Grace won’t go for it. Any negativity and she refuses to get involved.” Jacqueline took another look at the hole and stroked her ball right in the center. “What with her insisting everything must be positive, and Todd doing his privacy thing, they’re making it very difficult for us.”

Mason had already lost count of his shots. He was holding the flag for the others. “We just need to do something about the attack ads. You’ve got to talk to her Jaq, or we’re going to blow this.”

Negatives

Negatives

The TV and radio was awash with anti-iCampaign messages. Many of them were paid for by Super PACs, and they questioned everything from Todd’s bachelor status, and his choice to drive a BMW rather than a car made in Detroit, to Grace’s citizenship--even though they had to go back to her Antiguan grandmother to find a relative not born in Illinois or Indiana.

How?

Desmond was monitoring the polls. “Not so long ago, we had all those people, all potential voters, send their cash to help finance this campaign, but we’re losing them. People aren’t taking us seriously enough and they believe the lies they are being fed by the Clinton and Trump people. We’ve got to stop them somehow.”

“How are we going to do that if Grace won’t let us go for the other parties?” Kristoff couldn’t believe the position they found themselves in. “Aren’t we supposed to be telling her what to do?”

Truth

They walked together in silence to the next tee. Jacqueline refused to play off the women’s tees, and still won most times. She was about to take her drive when she stopped. “We have to combat them with the truth. Grace will go for that.

We hit back with the facts. We’ll just tell the people the truth and let them decide. But we have to be out there, day after day, and we must confront their lies and smear tactics so voters know the truth.”

Even Mason seemed mollified. “ I don’t see how Grace can say no to that. When we get back to the office I’ll work on some Internet ads. I feel so much better now. I’ve even got a good feeling about this drive.”

Then, Mason crushed the ball into the deep rough about 20 yards away.

Chapter 91 - Out Of Focus

The President was getting increasingly irritable with his team because of long separations from his wife and daughters while he campaigned for the very woman he’d battled eight years earlier.

The party hierarchy talked relentlessly about preparations for the presidential debate that was now just days away. They were worried; he could sense the unease.

He’d heard that Paddy Cahill was pulling the strings for Hillary’s campaign and he wasn’t comfortable with it. The attack ads they’d been running were mean and cynical, yet he had to concede they appeared to have fatally wounded Grace Conwright’s chances.

Afterthought

Afterthought

Cahill was confidently predicting the iCan Party would be a non-factor come Election Day.

But the president wasn’t so sure. He genuinely wanted Hillary to succeed, but he liked Grace, too. He understood her journey better than most, even if she took a different path than his own.

Invested

He’d told Hillary she shouldn’t dismiss the number of people it took to raise all that iCampaign money. Some of them would now be harboring doubts; but they hadn’t gone away, he thought. They were invested in the iCandidate - and investors always prefer a pay out.

Cahill didn’t bother to look up when Hillary questioned him on the president’s concerns. “You can’t run a country with eight people and the public realizes that. They had their fun with their little reality show. Now it’s time to let the professionals handle it. We need to focus on Trump because he could hurt us.”

Hidden Danger

Cahill, his glasses propped on the end of his nose, got up carrying an armful of papers, gesturing haughtily for Hillary to leave. “I can’t talk now, but I’ve told you already that you don’t need to worry. It’s all here. Three tracking polls putting Trump out in front.”

“The problem, Paddy, is that Conwright could beat us. I’ve seen a whole different set of polls that suggest they’re turning things around. I’m being told that all they need to do is keep their base happy – all those folks who voted in the show – and they could conceivably catch us, even beat us, right on the line.”

Guarantee

Cahill put down the papers and opened the door for Hillary to leave. “Horseshit” he said. “I want to keep the focus on Trump. The iCampaign is dead. I guarantee it. Just remember: when you win in November, you owe me.”