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Random Fiction #2 – 112718

The constant churn of workers at the foundry led to the formation of a deputy council. Finding new workers to maintain the supply lines was the top priority.

Harper Fugate took the lead in recruiting more men whether his means were ethical or not didn’t matter. He produced, so the top brass looked the other way.

Harper did his best work on the phone. Never comfortable in person, he sweet talked the best men into braving the trip to the solar transition team headquarters in sub-freezing temps. It didn’t hurt that he promised them the moon when they wrapped their assignments. At least, that’s what he promised.

“Whaddya mean you need that in writing?” Harper shouted into the comm line. He purposely covered the camera sensor with duct tape so that only his voice came through against a black screen.

“Well, sir, I don’t mean no disrespect,” a young recruit said, though it was obvious he was disrespecting Harper something fierce. “But that’s a long way to go for something that sounds too good to be true.”

Harper missed the days when he could bang the receiver on his desk and knock some sense into a guy over the phone. That wasn’t so easy with a screen attached to a camera port.

“Well, we don’t do that so you can either take us up on the offer or leave it behind,” Harper replied. “No sweat off my back. You’ll actually be doing me a favor by getting off my comm right now. I got a lineup of guys on deck waiting for the same shot. You’re missing the boat and wasting my time now.”

“Wait, wait…” the young recruit said. “I didn’t say I didn’t want to do it. I could really use the money, and besides, I don’t have anything else planned for the next year.”

“Now that’s what I’m talking about!” Harper yelled. He didn’t need to yell, he was just happy to land another fish and wanted to let them know how pleased he was. “I’ll have my assistant send you the details but for now, make plans to be at Pier 23 tomorrow morning at oh-five-hundred. The ship takes off at oh-five-thirty with or without you.”

“Yes, sir, I won’t let you down,” the recruit said. His voice trembled with excitement as the screen went black on Harper’s end.

Harper shifted in his seat, leaning back away from his desk, wishing he had a cigar to light up for another job well done. The council outlawed smoking in the territory a few weeks back, much to the dismay of everyone. It wasn’t like they could tell the difference. The smoke spewing from the factories was a thousand times worse for everyone’s health, but they had to start somewhere.

Harper rubbed the outside of his left shoulder, feeling for the nicotine patch he had a doc implant right away. A lifelong smoker, he knew the withdrawal symptoms would kill him in short order, so he bribed his way into the ER and had a microscopic pump installed. Feeling the slight bump in his skin, he pressed it firmly to release a quick hit of nicotine to calm his nerves.

Recruiting calls always excited him though with all of them lately his pump drained rapidly. He’d need a refill soon.

“Daphne, get me an appointment with Doc Richards again for tomorrow morning. See if he can squeeze me in at seven-thirty on my way into the office.”

“Yes, sir,” Daphne replied as the sound of her voice echoed in the room. Sitting beside him was one way to do it, and he could have just as easily done it himself. What was the point, though, of getting to be his age and having to do all the work himself?

“Now let’s see who else I can line up for tomorrow’s transport,” he said out loud.

“We only have room for one more, sir,” Daphne replied, handing him a chip reader with all but one slot filled. “The Council will be happy to see that. The other’s aren’t doing so well with their numbers. Good thing you’re killing it.”

Harper lifted the chip in the air and stared at it. The gleaming silver disc beamed with numbers showing off his hard work. He’d had a great week, though the thought of sending so many young men to certain death weighed heavily in the pit of his stomach. He took a swig of seltzer water, and the pain disappeared.

“Welp, patch me through to the next one and let’s get that boat filled,” he said. He dropped the bottle into the right-hand desk drawer and got back on the comm line.

Copyright © 2018 Chad V. Holtkamp.

All rights reserved.

Bryan Goff

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