Second part of a sci-fi short story inspired by a friend's interest.
Diver City - II
Ortmann shifted sideways a little as he stood before the board. It was not a conversation he had wished to initiate. The harsh white strip light didn't make it any easier.
"I'm… I'm concerned about Harwell. He seems… unwell."
Not a single member of the board looked up at him. He'd never seen their eyes, and had never known them to leave the board room.
"Councillor Ortmann, we do not concern ourselves with the well being of the collectors."
Ortmann felt his throat dry. Looking around the room for a window, he began to speak.
"The collection yields have steadily reduced for the past sixteen weeks, and we're not hitting the targets. His cough has worsened. What do we do if he has the gall to die?"
A flicker of the strip light punctuated a silence that must have lasted at least four minutes. He could feel their contempt like insects under his skin.
"Councillor Ortmann, we do not repeat ourselves. You have our decision. If he does not improve, kill him yourself, and then take his place."