The Price of Demand (Reintegration Edit 8)

The next morning, Altman was barely out of the house when a shout tinged with panic stopped him in his tracks. “Mr. Dolet! Come quick, an’ bring the medics! There’s been another accident, sir!” A short distance down the path from the front entrance of the house, a lanky fellow in workman’s dress was sprinting in his direction.

Altman spun on his heel, calling back into the house. “Ms. Cranford! Bring your assistants!” Turning back to the just-arriving man, he exclaimed “Quick man, what happened?”

Medic Cranford burst out the door as the workman began. “He was workin’ on the roof, finishin’ it off when down he came, I saw it clear as day! He landed bad, shoulder’s broke, an’ his leg … like I said, it’s bad.”

Cranford scowled, though whether at the news or at her assistants, who were just leaving the house, Altman couldn’t say. “He’s lucky t’weren’t his skull. No time to waste, let’s move.”

They made haste over the rough paths to the work site. There was no big crowd gathered this time; the men continued to work, though there was a certain reluctance to them that Altman could feel over the entire area.

Waldon wasted no time when they arrived on the scene. “Medic Cranford, ‘e’s over ‘ere.”

Cranford strode forward with purpose, shooing a few onlookers away. “Let’s get ‘im looked at first, then we get ‘im back to the wing if it’s safe. Mr. Dolet, if you could stay out of the way?”

Altman nodded, though she couldn’t see it. “Of course. I need to inspect the area, and the roof he fell from.” And I need to do something, he thought, insides seething at the helpless feeling that threatened to overtake him. But despite the helpless feeling, something prickled the back of his neck as he surveyed the scene. The man had fallen while framing the roof of a new building. He’d almost finished when a large tree branch had fallen on him and knocked him off.

Waldon caught his eye. He looked like he felt as helpless as Altman did. “Somethin’ the matter? Aside from th’ obvious, I mean.”

Altman paced the area. “Yes, but I couldn’t say what precisely it is. This accident … itstrikes me as similar to the last.”

Waldon grunted skeptically. “Huh. You see more’n I do then. I spose they did both fall, though, I’ll give ya that much. You do what you need to. I’ll get the rest o’ these louts back on th’ job. You men! This ain’t no time for dawdlin’! The rest ‘o you can get back to it, and do it like I told you this time! I’ll ‘ave no more careless accidents on my watch or there’ll be hell to pay.”

Altman stared after Waldon as the other man stalked back to his duties. “See more. Yes, I think that’s what I need to do.”