Dodging the hordes making their way along the boulevard, Tavon glanced at his watch as he sprinted the final blocks toward the base of the large skyscraper. Avoiding other’s personal space at all cost, his lithe figure wove a path through the masses, seeing an opening and claiming it for his own for the split second it took to move on. Now within sight of the large red canopy extending over the sidewalk, its embossed lettering announcing the Dresden brand, Tavon relished the notion of finally showing his father he could be trusted to be on time. 

            He was almost there.

            Crossing the last intersection as the yellow light ceded to red, the only thing now standing between him and the skyscraper’s entranceway was a homeless man, gathering his belongings as the authorities tried to extricate him from the shadows.

            Tavon recognized Kronos instantly. His old friend was well outside his zone. Still, Tavon frowned at the officers’ excessive use of force, but knew better than to intervene as they pried the old man’s wrist to gain his compliance. His face racked with pain, Kronos saw Tavon and reached for him, his hand shaking as he struggled to his feet.

            “Tavon. Please.”

            Tavon stopped and held his ground but saw Kronos’ predicament.

            He needed a hand up, nothing more.

            Surely the authorities would not begrudge him that.

            Reaching into Kronos’ space, Tavon noticed the initial pulsing of his wrist sensor but ignored the impulse to stop, as well as the stares of those now forced to go around him as they tried to avoid violating their own space limits.

            As he clasped his hand around the frail fingers, pulling Kronos upright, Tavon could feel the eyes of the two officers bore into him as he patted the elderly man on the shoulder then bound past him to the top of the stairs and pressed the button for the penthouse suite.

            Looking at his watch, Tavon realized he was late again, but only by a matter of seconds. Still, his father would not be impressed.

            “Tavon?” He could sense the displeasure in his father’s voice.

            “Yes Father,” he said, looking over his shoulder as Kronos was escorted away by one of the officers. “Let me in,” he added, as the other officer focused his attention on Tavon and made his way up the stairs toward him.

            “I’ll be right down,” his father said.

            “Just let me in.” Tavon tried the door then pounded it with his fist. Burying his face into his arm, the red light of the wrist sensor pulsed in unison with his breathing as he felt the officer closing in. 

            Hesitating to turn around, Tavon knew he had crossed the line.


            It was a minor transgression, mere centimetres, but a transgression nonetheless. 

            And the sensor didn’t lie.

            For a first offence, there was some leeway, a buffer allocated around every citizen’s personal space. Within the hierarchy, even a homeless person was granted some flexibility.

            But this wasn’t the first time for Tavon. 

            Far from it.

            He could run, but running was pointless, and in all likelihood, paying even less attention to the boundaries, he would only add to the seriousness of the charge against him.

            Resigned to his fate, he held his ground as the officer approached. For even though he was an offender, his own space remained a constitutional right. At least until a determination was made. 

            If found guilty, not only would he lose that right, he would probably become an outcast. 

            Leniency was not a characteristic of the judiciary. 

            Already overpopulated, space in the city was at a premium, and while shedding one more human to the wilderness didn’t ease the situation, cumulatively it was the only way to make room for growth. And growth meant prosperity.

            Or so his father said.

            As an architect of The System and a retired senior Minister, the man had intervened on every occasion, arguing for diplomatic immunity for Tavon’s many transgressions. But even he wielded only so much power and authority, and the judges had issued their last warning. 

            Pleading would be of no use.

            They would make an example of his son.

            “Tavoner Dresden,” said the officer, reading from the digital display on his wristband.

            Tavon nodded, his head still buried in the crook of his arm as he heard the door open and his father’s muted voice say, “What now?”

            “You are in violation of the Boundaries Act,” the officer continued as he placed a hand on Tavon’s shoulder and pulled him around to face him, ignoring Tavon’s father who raised a hand to interject. “Come with me please.”

            Tavon looked to his father, then to the officer and back again, catching the subtle nod as his father motioned to the officer. 

            “Father. Do something.”

            Stepping back inside, the old man frowned, then turned around and walked away as the large door closed behind him and Tavon was led down the stairs.