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The wind whistles its way past my nearly frost-bitten ear and continues down the street. It is the early morning of an inevitably hectic day, a day which never ends. The sun has not yet exposed itself to the inhabitants of this street; for many of whom it is the sole cause of enlightenment in an otherwise pathetic existence.
The sun is not important to me; it cannot be. I rarely see it, for my work is too essential to waste valuable time awaiting its redundant arrival every morning of this endless day. Time is money, time is life, time is precious. Far, far too precious to waste for the sun.
I hurry down the cracked, icy pavement, allowing my surroundings to pass unnoticed. I do not need to observe this street or its inhabitants. I pass them
every day in my car, a car which served its function adequately until the bitter cold this morning finally pulled the plug out of the engine's life-support
A nameless child wails for a reason I cannot fathom. There is an old, gray man squatting wearily by his silver metal fireplace, which he shares
involuntarily with friends he does not know. A frail woman sits on a dilapidated staircase feeding leathered business associates, apparently tired of dealing with human ones. A small juvenile shouts to me, asking that I compensate him for the printed pages of sensationalism and tragedy he has pushed into my arms. I toss it back to him and continue toward my imperative destination. These people do not matter to me and thus they are not significant. They merely serve as obstacles on this frigid morning, obstacles to prevent me from arriving at my destination on time.
I quicken my pace, but the ice beneath my feet is slippery and I fall, colliding with someone. It is a tall, whiskered man with wild eyes and a frenzied manner. He is one of the many lunatics who roams this street bearing a prophecy of cataclysm.
"Repent, sinner!" he shouts, waving an unintelligible sign in my face.
"Repent, sinner, for Armageddon is here! The world ends today!" I blink at him, not comprehending. For the briefest of instants, I truly become aware of this street. I peer through the pre-dawn gloom and - for the first time - see the people who surround me. I notice a homeless grandfather crouching by a trash can, a sick yet lively girl finding joy from her company of friendly pigeons, and a young boy selling newspapers to raise money for his poverty-stricken family. For a fleeting moment, I know why the child cries, and I even catch a glimpse of an incipient sunrise. Then it is gone.
"Repent, sinner," the crazy man insists. "There will be no tomorrow."
I do not need these people, and I do not need the sun. My destination awaits me and time is running short. I brush past the eccentric prophet and continue to hurry down the cracked, icy pavement. A thought occurs to me - a preposterous, implausible thought which for some reason arouses within me an inkling of fear. It is a thought that perhaps the man is not as crazy as I would wish him to be. 1