Standing on the corner of number and alphabet streets, the hacking cough comes again. From deep within the wheezing chest I feel a ball of phlegm gather and roll up the scratchy throat. There was nothing left to do but expel the green gooey mass into the gutter.

“Gross,” a woman of known character shouts from behind her oversized sunglasses.

A true statement it was, and being once a gentleman who considered himself of noblized character, I felt it was appropriate to return her conversation starter with uplifting support: “Your perkiness gives that tube top a structure of peachy firmness that brings a heretofore unknown refinement of ample curve integrity to elasticized cotton construction.”

“Ewwwwww, gross,” she replied, hurrying away, clearly offended by the unforgettable oversized green mass moving in the street's gutter.

It really was a disgusting example of the assault taking place against my personage. There is great expectation that this assault will be survived, but not without receiving a serious pummeling by the translucent form of a venal viral nature. Alas, there can be no doubt these virulent creatures hiding in plain sight due to their microsity have set their purpose on thriving at my expense — in other words, killing me. And by what standing do they make such a judgement on my livelihood?!

A lump in my throat tells me another ball of stifling, choking phlegm is growing aggressively and needs to be purged. Loud guttural sounds set things moving. Aaaaaack! Aaaaaack! Aaaaaack! Psssstoooo!!! A green alien flies from my mouth and hits the curb. Sweat is running down my skin, which is strange because the flesh seems dry, cold, clammy. Fatigue is taking me down. I need rest.

To my left, reflecting the sun's rays was a bench for public transit. Around the corner to my right sat a similar bench, shaded by a building. Rest was needed, and it is difficult to rest while under assault from the sun's relentless rays. I manage to place my achy carrion bone bag on the shaded bench. Much to my surprise, my mind quit and sleep enveloped. The conscious mind is not necessary for the battle within to take place — conscious is an insignificant burden. I was out.

Do not know how long I was recovering on the bench, but the sun had begun its descent shortly before my respite and was near completing its journey as I returned to the shared world. I felt much better. To my surprise, I was no longer sitting on the bench but slumped over on my side in a fecal position. Apparently my body has a mind of its own, a parallel ownership of which my conscious is a minority owner.

Slowly, I right my resting body to a sitting position and listen to the loud, infringing noises of the street. How poor must my shape be that I sleep so solidly in these conditions. Yet I am tired enough still that I consider leaning to my side and returning to sleep.

“You okay?” a youthful man asks, looking at me with concern.

“Just a little down.”

“You sure? That gash looks pretty bad. You're still bleeding pretty bad...and...uh...and you're...uh...you're not that clean so that might get infected.”

Bleeding? Gash? Not clean? I recall my eyes throbbing, but that was from the congestion, that was what I felt earlier. Suddenly there is awareness of another throbbing, more pronounced, in the center of a shining example of a forehead. Then there was awareness that liquid was running down the face and dripping off the tip of the nose. I look down and see blood. After wiping the tip of the nose, my hand is streaked with fresh blood. I am bleeding, and from what the kind stranger has imparted it is from a gash in the middle of a magical throbbing head.

“What happened?” I asked curiously of the considerate youthful one.

“I...I don't know. Don't you know?”

“No. I had a dream some people were yelling at me, shouting insolent socioeconomic invectives and calling me a disease ridden bum while chasing me down the street, throwing things at me, but it was just a dream. I have been on this bench for hours.”

“You need to get that taken care of.”

The young man helps me up. I cough, send him a viral foe as thanks for his help, and in that instant I remember, I know who gave me this foe, indifferent to I as good or evil. A young woman of exceptional skin quality coughed on me when she asked me for directions — a query I could not satisfy. This bug expanded from assaulting me to this kind, youthful man. This thing does not care if the nature of the human assaulted is good or evil, simply that it is a living human it can try and ravage. From the thoughtless viruses point of view, we are all evil and worthy of being struck down without judgement or consideration of any kind. The assault is fate's roll of the dice.

“I'm going to take you to the urgent care center.”

“No, but thank you. I know this is a lot to ask, but if I buy some glue will you glue my wound closed? I'll buy some gloves so you don't have to touch my special blood.”

“Special? Well...” the man began, clearly uncomfortable.

“Please? I am a man, just like you, who needs 5 minutes of intimate help to patch a wound received upon the battlefield of life.”

“The battlefield of life? How can I say no to that? Yes,” he acceded.

Once the gentleman agreed to help this simple wounded soul, though still fatigued by the assault within, I knew I would be better. I would get better because it is not yet my time, because I am needed by others, even if it is to make them heroes by my apparent need for them. I am not alone; no matter how much it may feel that way at times; no matter how much I may wish it were that way at times. I am never alone. None of us are. And that is the way it must be.

Updated: Imagine the surprise when sometime later I read a half dozen souls in the neighborhood succumbed to these fatiguing symptoms. The hand of fate is at times fickle and feckless, yet always divining.