Painful Charity

by Adam Knight
“What are these for? You know what I’m here about.”

Tazi left the candles on the cart to ward off suspicion, then withdrew a leather pouch and a wooden box. I opened the box— firecradle, gray and pasty and smelling of sulfur. I rolled the pouch’s contents— two tinderstones—into my palm. They were cool, smooth and blood red.

“Don’t flash those around,” she said, her forked tongue drawing out the “S”. She was a young adult, covered with dark green scales. Her ears were small holes on the sides of her head; her eyes were yellow and slitted. She wore rags, and a threadbare bandana on her hairless scalp. Like most Lizardmen in the city of Pentathos, she was little more than scales and skeleton.

I smiled but closed my palm.
          
“Relax. Who’s watching?” I said, but even in this crowded marketplace, jammed with hucksters, thieves, prostitutes, and panhandlers, an exchange with a Lizardman could draw City Guards.

“You got something?” Tazi asked. I showed her four mugs I had found, and a broken brooch. She nodded and I handed them to her. Though the buying and selling created a bustling din, people walked past Tazi’s stall as though she weren’t there. Such was the treatment of most Lizardmen merchants.

“How’s little Jaraak? Getting big?” I asked, hiding my purchases. Tazi spread her arms wide, and I laughed. “Eating well, too?”

“Yes.”

“Glad to hear it,” I replied, knowing she had lied. “Tell me if you need anything.”

“Of course, Zeke. You have a good heart.”

Tazi lit several candles, perhaps to draw customers. I couldn’t bear to tell her that it would not help her business, but I suspect she already knew that. She lit them with tender care. My eyes fixated on the wavering flame. The flame grew larger, filling all my vision. I could see inside the fire, see the wick crumble to ash, see the wax soften, melt, and pour away, even see the air around being pulled in and consumed.
          
“Will you be at the announcement today?” Tazi said. I shook my head and blinked, still mesmerized by the flame.

“Announcement?”

“City Council, in Merchant’s Square at noon. Thought you might know more.”

Why would I know more? Because my father is on the Council, my father who I haven’t spoken to in years? I only shook my head. Tazi puffed out her candles and began stuffing her wares into her cart. She nodded to the crowd.

“Guards,” she whispered, and we scrambled to pack up the cart. I shoved my firecradle and tinderstones into my shirt. Several feet away, two City Guards glowered at us and strode in our direction.

“Hurry!” gasped Tazi. “Jaraak.”

She slipped into the building behind her while I watched the two Guards closing in. They were staring at me.

“Tazi!” I shouted, and she dashed out carrying a tiny, crying bundle.

“Go!” she shouted, and grabbed the candle cart. I tried to wheel it through the crowd. My two illicit purchases bounced against my stomach as I inched forward. I thought I heard the Guards shout at me, but in the din of the market, sounds all mushed together. I looked back. They were a few steps away. Gritting my teeth, I shoved the cart up out of the street. Tazi grabbed the cart.

“Thanks,” she gasped, taking the cart. “See you.”

She slipped into a dark alley, and I pushed further down the street. The Guards somehow kept pace with me, though I knew the streets far better than they. I dashed between two buildings, into an empty warehouse, along another alley. I stopped and listened, holding my breath. Nothing. A sharp pain split lines along my skull; I leaned against brick --Night sky. Sparks and smoke burst into the atmosphere and dissipate—

I shook my head and sucked in air. The vision faded, and I listened for the Guards again. Still not certain I was free, I retreated further, not stopping until I was behind a tavern, hiding among food scraps and broken barrels and crates. The Guards would not follow me there.

***

I am not mad. Everyone—my father most of all—certainly thinks I am. But I have lived two lives, and I know mad from sane. In my wealthy life, among the pillows and perfume in Upper Pentathos, I saw men suffocate themselves with luxury, madly hoping it would spare them pain. And in my years in the wilted trash heaps, urine puddles, and slanted shadows of Lower Pentathos, I have seen men drool and speak to invisible friends and bite off their own fingers, yet these were the sanest men I know. Sanity is not lifestyle, not the affectation of being “well-adjusted.” Any lunatic can slide his way among proper society. No, sanity is about how you see the world, and every time I close my eyes I see roaring infernos. This is not crazy. This is visionary.
          
An accidental glance in a puddle revealed a man nearly thirty, unshaven, with dark hair and gaunt face. I kicked the puddle and rummaged through the food scraps behind the tavern. I ate nothing. If the rats won’t touch it, then it’s not good enough for me. My stomach growled, and I thought of trading for food. I had nothing of my own, save the precious tinderstones and firecradle. A quick scan of the alley revealed nothing of value. The rancid fat trimmings and vegetable peels became more appetizing.
          
I stepped into the street, the bright morning light opening my vision of Pentathos. I saw no City Guards, but watched keenly for them. Squat buildings of mud and planks lined the rough streets. Dogs and swine rooted the gutters for scraps. A gouty old woman shuffled in pain. A one-armed boy pulled a wooden cart with the help of a shoulder yoke. I watched as he stopped at each doorway, offering to take away trash for a coin. As he passed a dark alley, he spat at an aged Lizardman, who retreated into the shadows. I thought of Tazi and Jaraak who, though their family had lived among humans for generations, were less welcome than rats and roaches. Anger crackled and hissed in my mind. I could do nothing. Injustice is a juggernaut that most men fear to challenge, yet their passivity only makes it stronger. Of course, few men even questioned the mistreatment of the Lizardmen.

My stomach rumbled again. It seemed that this need could not go unmet. What are needs? Boots? Clean clothes? Shelter? Mere familiar luxury. Truly, how many people think, “I have just enough right now,” let alone “I have too much.”? If I could only shake these overconsumers, throttle them into seeing their greed—

My stomach growled again, louder. All right, I conceded. Perhaps today, I did need food. I passed a stable, and did what I always do—make my life from what others throw away. I crept behind the stalls, watching for any hands that might notice me. I saw my prize at the bottom of a junk heap—two bent horseshoes. I snatched up the horseshoes, tucked them into my shirt along with my tinderstones and firecradle, and strolled back onto the main road.

The morning was getting late, so I turned a few corners until I was aimed at the Merchant’s Square, where the City Council would give their announcement. I met a shriveled woman with a cart of day-old bread.

“Need a bite, sir?”

“Famished.”

“What’s your pleasure?”

“Pleasure is an opiate. I require a hard loaf, please.” I withdrew the two bent horseshoes and handed them to the old woman. She paused for a moment, inspecting them, a fleeting look of disappointment crossing her face because I had not paid with coin. Finally she grunted, handed over the loaf, and said her goodbye. I grasped the bread and bit down like a lion on prey. The sharp crack of the crust, its scrape against my gums, the stale inside not yielding to my teeth. For an instant I was lost in the sensual delight. The taste of plain bread was enough to make my head swim. I lost time, and when I came to, my hands were empty and covered in crumbs. I let out a small belch, and walked down the avenue, into Merchant’s Square.

***

At noon a train of carriages arrived bearing the City Council members. Each Councilman took a seat on a wide wooden stage, and I felt revulsion. Twelve men: all old, all fat, all swaddled in imported cloth, all surrounded with the clinging stench of self-importance. A detachment of Pentathos City Guards mounted the stage, surrounding the guests of dishonor. Heralds and pages hovered around like flies on shit. After the procession had disembarked, a foppish herald stood at the podium.

“Good people of Pentathos,” he said. “The City Council has a vital announcement about the state of our city. Please recognize the architect of our revitalization campaign, the honorable Pentathos City Councilman, Alistair Murdock.”

The hairs on the back of my neck shot up. I felt a rush of heat in my head, and flames swam on the fringes of my vision as my father rose from his seat and approached the podium. He looked nothing like me—red-faced, tufts of white hair, a round belly that made his swagger pronounced. He cleared his throat as he waited for the crowd to quiet, then began to speak.

“Many of you have voiced displeasure about the quality of life in Pentathos. I sympathize with you, for I too can see daily many troubles that face us. We still face the challenges of increasing poverty, lawlessness, diminishing employment opportunities, and interracial tension between ourselves and the Lizardmen. While no single initiative can wholly correct these injustices, we on the City Council have agreed upon a course of action that will lead to better access to adequate housing, increased opportunity for employment, and to more sanitary living.”

I needed to stop him from speaking. I staggered, my head reeling. I inched through the crowd to get to the stage. My father droned on.

“We wage a silent war with them in the streets, in the marketplaces, in the halls of justice and the jails. The Lizardmen continue to hamper our development. They weigh upon our infrastructure with their dependence upon our charity, and strain the resources of our City Guards with their relentlessly unlawful behavior. We in the City Council have done much to protect Pentathian humans, yet our city still suffers, and it took little debate to agree that the Lizardmen are the true cause of suffering and disparity in Pentathos.”

The crowd buzzed with excitement. Heads nodded as though bobbing on strings. I pushed ahead. The bouncing of tinderstones and firecradle in my shirt inspired my plan. The stage, dry as kindling, was still out of reach, but I ducked between onlookers to get nearer.

“Therefore, in the best interest of the city of Pentathos, the Council developed a program to relocate all Lizardmen. The benefits for Pentathos are numerous: more jobs for humans, more charity making its way into human hands, more attention to humans on the part of the City Guard. The Lizardmen will be moved to a facility to the northwest of Pentathos. Ultimately, they will benefit from the isolation and placement with their own kind. More importantly, the human folk of Pentathos, that make Pentathos the marvelous city it is, will be once and for all rid of the Lizardman’s pestilential influence.”

My father rambled on about the “containment facility,” and how the low cost of building it would be well worth any slight tax increases. Finally I reached the stage, crouching out of sight. I reached for my tinderstones and firecradle when, like an eruption, flames inside my skull scorched out my ears, my nose, my eyes. I saw only fire. I vomited and searing embers and flames gushed out. I started to shake, and my head was consumed in flames. For how long I crouched there, I could not tell, but then I saw the ground, then concerned people around me. I looked at the podium, disoriented. I had thrown up—bread, not fire—and my head was not singed.

***

I flitted in and out of dream, seeing a wooden palisade wall, infinitely long and as high as I could see. Fire flickered on the fringes of my dream-vision. I awoke, lying in a feather bed, towered over by priceless artwork, antiques, silk drapes, and rare books on walnut shelves. I shuddered with horror. My father’s home.

Comfort, my father taught me, was the single thing all men desired and needed. He spoke of it as though it were a god. With the money he made as a property owner and as a Councilman, he bought me everything he could. I once thought he bought me these things to console me over my absent mother, who died in my birth, but I abandoned that idea. He bought me these things because he was Alistair Murdock, and Murdocks had to be comfortable. Once I had a joyous dream of my playroom burning. Oh, how I soared when I awoke! I told my father, who exploded in a tirade about my lack of respect for the Murdock name and for the nice things he bought me. I’m sure you can fill in the rest of my childhood. Mischief. Restlessness. Little ambition or focus. I confounded my father and tutors with my lack of studying, etiquette, or general decency. Nothing changed my behavior. When I reached the age of fifteen my father deemed me an embarrassment and a danger to his reputation, so he told me to go out on my own. I have seen him rarely since that day.
          
That swollen beet of a man strode into the room, looking at me over puffy cheeks.

“Well, Zeke, I never expected to see you in this house again.”

“Well, Father, I never expected to return to your cloud palace.”

My eyes adjusted to the low light, and I hated all I saw. Cushions, bottles of imported wine, and painted portraits of my father adorned the walls. He took a bottle of port from the shelf and offered me some. When I declined with a grimace, he poured himself a glass.

“It is good to see you,” he said. “Not pleasant, but important. It reminds me of how the common Pentathians live. Probably a good idea for a Councilman.”

“Do you ever go to the streets and, you know, walk?”

“This is a city, Zeke, and far too dangerous.”

“The real danger is shutting yourself away from the lives of others.”

“Still talking like a madman, eh?”

I sat up, dizzy.

“I heard your announcement, and I—“

“Quite good, isn’t it? The most cost-effective solution to the city’s woes.”

“Cost-effective? It’s an abomination. You know nothing about us, nor about the Lizardmen.”

“Not true. I have a pair of very competent Lizardmen in my employ. Of course, they are exempt from the relocation. And what do you mean by using ‘us’ to describe the human poor and the Lizardmen? There are some differences, fundamental differences, which must be recognized between the Lizardmen and ourselves, and as long as we pretend those differences do not exist, we are ruining life in Pentathos.”

He sipped his wine again and I smacked the glass away, shattering it.

“Of course there are differences!”

My father shook his head.

“You could have had so much. I raised you with all the luxury and comfort
imaginable. Yet you reject it; you spit on it. I have never understood that, and I never will. You live under some illusion that life as a poor man is nobler, more dignified, than that of a rich man. In truth, you only humiliate yourself and me by choosing poverty.”

My father dug into his pocket and produced a silver coin. Minted money was rare in Lower Pentathos; silver almost unheard of. He handed it to me.

“In any case, put this to good use. Actually, I don’t care. Use it to feed whatever bastard Lizardman you have sired. Just don’t let it be spoken that Alistair Murdock is uncharitable. You really are mad, Zeke. Not because of your visions or your episodes, not because of your lunatic’s rhetoric, but because you voluntarily live in filth.”

I stood.

“They’ll all die!” I shouted. “You’re killing them!”

My father stroked his chin.

“Aren’t they dying already? My job is to improve life for Pentathos, and now they will die among their own kind in a discreet place. Better than in our gutters, eh? Of the two of us, it is I who really loves the city. You talk of the need for change, yet when I create change you beg me to keep things the same. For all your philosophy and rhetoric, you certainly don’t do much about it.”

I stormed from the house. I knew the streets of Upper Pentathos well-- the manicured gardens, the perfume of flowers, and the contented citizens strolling cobbled streets with their bellies full. My fist closed around the silver coin. I wanted to hurl it in the dirt, or to hand it to the nearest passerby. But I just held it. As guilty as the coin made me feel, it was too valuable to be thrown away. An electric shudder shot up my spine –A tall wooden palisade fence. Flames dance at the fringes of my dream-vision— and I shook my head to clear my eyes. Where were Tazi and Jaraak? They needed protection.

***

I arrived too late.

A mass of shadows filled the alley behind the tavern. I crept forward, watching and listening from a doorway.

“Who else’s name do you think I mean? Yes, yours, snake,” growled a man’s voice.

“Tazi.”

I felt my heart beating in my throat. Three City Guards surrounded Tazi. All were armed, and one carried a long scroll.

“And what’s this?” said a Guard, poking the bundle in Tazi’s arm.

“My child.”

“Hm. Name?”

“Please,” Tazi said. “He is just a baby—“

“Name!”

“Jaraak. Please, don’t hurt—“

“Health check. Any history of diseases?”

“No…no, I can’t think of any. Jaraak can get a cough, but what child doesn’t—“

One Guard grasped Tazi roughly by the shoulders, and she yelped. The other guard yanked at her rags and pulled them from her body. She stood there, shaking and trying to cover herself as the Guards’ eyes raked her. Once they finished, they tossed her clothes back. I felt the flames reaching in around my eyes, and I clenched my jaw. I wanted to leap into the alley, thrash and kick the Guards until they scattered, but my legs were leaden. I could only watch from the corner.

“No!” Tazi cried as one Guard tore Jaraak from her arms. He shook the blankets off the little guy, until Jaraak was wriggling, wailing, and naked. I felt a jolt of rage push through my legs, urging me to attack. The Guard turned the Lizardman baby in his hands, just as though he were inspecting a cut of meat. He grunted, then thrust him back at Tazi.

“Both good health. Location, alley behind Reginald’s Corner. To be relocated the fifteenth.”

The three Guards whirled around to leave, and suddenly I stood in front of them.

“Who’re you?” the leader said. All three had the faces of beaten dogs.

“I’m—my name—what are you doing to her?”

“Lizard lovers,” said one Guard to the others. “Likes their kind more than his own.”

The leader strode over to me.

“This true?”

I shook my head.

“Take my advice, bud. Stick to your own. If you’re gonna live with animals, stay with the rats and pigs. At least you can eat them if things get bad.”

After the Guards were out of sight, I ran into the alley and held Tazi, who shook with sobs. Jaraak still whimpered, and I felt my arms quiver with anger and humiliation. If I couldn’t protect Tazi and Jaraak from three Guards, how would I protect them from the Pentathian government?

***

Jaraak calmed down, and fell asleep in a moth-eaten sack. He had been born in the winter. His father had died of starvation, and Tazi struggled to raise the infant Lizardman herself, though she never admitted to suffering for it. Since then I had done all I could to support the pair.

Tazi said nothing for many minutes, just holding on to me while she shook and cried. She whispered in my ear.

“I saw the ‘containment facility’.”
          
I looked at her.

“A pen. Like they keep pigs in. A muddy pit. Guards all around a wooden fence, and inside is little more than hovels and sheds.”

“Worse than here?” I asked, my throat tightening.

“It’s horrible. Jaraak will never survive.”

The Lizardman infant awoke, waving his hand around. I absently stuck out my finger for him to squeeze, which he did with his tiny clawed hand.

“Hhhhh-sssssss. Sssssss-hhhheeeeeeeek,” he squealed. Tazi smiled.

“He’s saying your name!”

“Is he really?” I said dubiously, but blushing at the thought. “I wish I had food for him.”

I thought of the bread I had devoured, and felt guilty. I doubted that Jaraak had eaten in the past day, or Tazi in the past two. She laid her hand on mine.

“Zeke, you do all you can. Your kindness is plenty.”

I offered to find them food. Tazi accepted, but I felt like kindness was far short of plenty.

***

I ventured into the market. The poor—human and Lizardman alike—rummaged through the trash behind buildings and in gutters, collecting discarded things and exchanging them for other discarded things. An economy of garbage.
          
All of the day’s confusion jumbled in my head. I hated when things were unclear, when I had no purpose. I wished I had one thing to drive me, one purpose. My father was right. As much as I hated injustice, I had done nothing to fight it. I couldn’t be a quiet, stoic warrior, pressing on humbly to even out life’s disparities. I felt I had one contribution to make the world, just one, and until I discovered it I would be doomed to scrape by.

A young boy working at his parents’ fruit stand accidentally dropped a melon at my feet. While the parents were busy cursing and scolding, I bent down and scooped up a broken half. Dinner.

I returned to Tazi. She thanked me with too much enthusiasm. She scraped out the soft flesh and fed it to her son, who slurped down the sweet pulp. After he was full, Tazi ate the rest, then gnawed on the rind until nothing remained. She laid her clawed hand on my arm and thanked me again. The sun was low in the sky, and Tazi drifted off to sleep, propped up against the wall. The twilight reflected off her scales, glittering like emeralds. Her breath was slow and even. I sighed, watching her sleep. Was I in love with her? Yes, I suppose, though not in the way a human loved a human. A better way, perhaps. How could I not love Tazi for her eternal hope and her infinite selflessness? I looked at little Jaraak, who was occupied with the discovery of his clawed toes. When he squealed I stuck out my finger again, and he gripped it. He grinned; I laughed. Sudden words burst into my mind: “Whatever bastard Lizardman you have sired.”

I pulled my finger back. The accusation had been ridiculous. But I did love the little guy. He would have died a dozen times in the past half-year if not for me, and yet I never thought twice of helping him. I was probably the closest to a father the creature would ever have. I pulled out the silver coin. It was more money than Tazi and Jaraak had ever known. I handed it to the Lizardman infant. He clutched the coin in his fist, then with a playful chirp he threw it to the ground. I laughed again. “That’s right,” I said, but I picked it up and tucked it in his blanket. Tazi would need it, and maybe it would help—A tall wooden palisade fence. Flames dance at the fringes of my dream-vision—

My body spasmed once, and my fists clenched. I tried to breathe and thought I could push my way through but

—A muddy pit. Lizardmen laying in filth, crying, dying. Wandering aimlessly, throwing themselves against the wooden palisade fence, the boundary of their world—

Not now, I thought, not with Tazi asleep and Jaraak depending on me. Waves of heat and energy surged through my body. I lay supine in the dirt, quivering and sweating. Dimly I heard Jaraak cry. I hung on to the sound, hoping to pull myself back to awareness, but the world around me dissolved and I plunged into

—The wooden fence is a raging bonfire, crackling and hissing. Sections collapse and crumble. Sparks and smoke burst into the atmosphere and dissipate. All Pentathos burns. Every hovel, every palatial home. Every whorehouse, every temple. Every pigsty, every stable. Every pub, every banquet hall. Every barracks. Every store. Every guardhouse. Every bank. The docks, the castle. Lower Pentathos and Upper Pentathos alike. Even the great gate separating the two halves of the city is engulfed in ravenous fire. Every manmade piece of Pentathos is aflame…The fire burns and burns. The heat is extreme; the smoke is billowing. The sky blackens with impurities the fire cannot burn: knots in the wood, rocks in mortar, dyes in fabric, blockages in vents and chimneys, blockages in people’s minds, hatred in their hearts, division in their souls…Finally the smoke blows away, the fire finished. Heat rises from the ashes, rippling vision. No one is harmed, but everyone is dazed. Every face is gray with ash and shock. Pentathians—the noblemen, the wage laborers, the City Council, the beggars, the High Chancellor, the Lizardmen—wander without direction, indistinguishable from one another. Every structure is obliterated. No walls remain; everyone in Pentathos sees everyone and everything else—

“Zeke! Zeke!” Tazi said, shaking me. My eyes bolted open. I was drenched in sweat, my jaw clenched and my teeth grinding. I felt I was actually lying on the ashes of the scorched city. I coughed smoke out of my lungs. Staggering to my feet, I waved my arm in front of my eyes, which were filled with fire.

“Stay here.”

“Where are you going?” Tazi asked. I thought of the silver coin in Jaraak’s
blanket. At best, it could buy the pair a shanty, or food for some time. What then? If I had given them a sack of silver coins, what would change? Nothing. Charity and sympathy would never end Tazi or Jaraak’s struggles, nor anyone’s. They brought comfort and nothing else. I ran towards the street.
          
“To end this.”

But Tazi grabbed my arm. She spoke in harsh staccato.

“Where are you going?”

“I left you money. Look in Jaraak’s blanket.” I yanked away.
          
“If you leave,” Tazi said, “What will we do? We need you.”

“Look in Jaraak’s blanket. And look to the northwest.”

***

Though I sprinted and knew the city well, shortcuts alone could not explain the speed of my flight across Pentathos. Hidden doors opened, buildings vanished, long streets became short. I reached the wooden palisade fence. Tall rough rails surrounded the frames of buildings. The unfinished wall had as many gaps as an old bum’s smile. The structures within were made from scrap wood, crudely nailed together. The ground was torn and scarred, a wasteland of mud and broken boards. Tazi had been too gentle; no farmer would force his pigs into so brutal a sty. Reaching in my shirt for the firecradle and the tinderstones, I felt an electrifying rush. In my head I knew what to do, and in my hands I had the tools to do it. Finally.

The City Guards at the perimeter could not see me kneel in the shadows below the fence, trembling with the thrill of taking action. With one hand I spread the pasty firecradle along the bottom of the wooden wall. I pressed an indent to catch the sparks. When I clashed the tinderstones together, three or four sparks fell, but fizzled out. Cursing, I struck the stones together harder. The new blow sent a spray of sparks into the firecradle, which leapt into flames. As I jumped to my feet, the fire raced along the wall with a hiss and a reek of burning sulfur. It embraced the wall like loving arms.

“Stop! City Guards!” shouted a deep voice to my right. Yet I did not break my gaze from the fire. Voices on my left, too. Soon hands grabbed me, pushed me to the ground and bound me with rope. My eyes stayed on the growing blaze. One guard shouted for water, another for Councilman Murdock. The voices sounded far away. I laughed. Pentathos would notice. Pentathos would talk and debate. The Council would argue the merits of rebuilding the facility. My fire was a thousand times more valuable than the silver coin.

The fire leapt from wall to wall, catching the structures inside, and spreading. Flames gobbled up the dry wood. The night sky raged with orange and red, the flashes of light illuminating the columns of smoke. My father arrived in his nightclothes.

“What have you done?” he shouted, his voice shaky with furious tears.

“This torch will illuminate the city’s path to wisdom.”

“Torch—wisdom—what? You’re a madman, but this is—I can’t even—you could kill someone!”

“No one will die. Look! Look at the flames, and do not blink. Your blind mistakes will burn away. And listen. The flames say ‘burn the walls in Pentathos, don’t build more.’”


My father collapsed and held the sides of his head. The color drained from his face. The City Guards hauled me back as I heard my father sobbing.

“I was Alistair Murdock! And now I’ll be nothing!”

The City Guards dragged me away. Even from afar I could see the flashes in the sky. My gaze never broke from them. Ashen-faced onlookers stared, too, as the burning walls collapsed and crumbled, sparks and smoke bursting into the atmosphere and dissipating into the night air. For a moment, the whole sky was bright with fire. For a moment, it seemed that all Pentathos was burning.
Adam Knight is a writer and English teacher in northern New Jersey. He has an undergraduate degree from Purchase College and an M.A. in English/Creative Writing from Binghamton University. He learns about creative grammar and spelling from his teenage students, enjoys watching/playing/playing fantasy/talking about/ baseball, tries to play guitar, and thinks a lot about what other fantastical worlds there might be out there, and if they're better than this one.

© 2010, Adam Knight