the explorer

The Explorer had been to many lands and traveled them fearlessly. He had climbed mountains, he had sailed ships; he had danced and drunk with thieves and revolutionaries. He had walked on hidden paths with refugees and escaped the secret police. He had explored the far reaches of human settlement, and seen the poles of human endeavor, from torture to self-abnegation.

But daily life in his homeland was too much for him. When he could no longer travel, and he returned for good, life closed in on him. The street, filled with raucous silence; the bus, filled with empty stares; the office, lit by cold, jittering tubes of glass; the corner store, its shelves lined with boxes of tasteless food—and then all over again the next day. He became demoralized, his courage began to fail him, and at last he could do little or nothing at all. He refused to leave his small room; stopped eating, and passed the short number of days until he starved listening to the television booming in the apartment above and nervously eying the front door upon which no one ever knocked.

In the end, it was sheer cowardice that killed him.

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