There was one person left in the lecture hall, and though Dr Matthews struggled to see that far he knew who it was. He wasn’t hovering around waiting to kiss his behind or get an extension on the essay, or help him with his bag and books to the next building. The boy sitting by himself was Clayton; a conscientious student and no doubt a brilliant future criminologist, or whatever he wanted to be—Dr Matthews had recalled him talking about a career as a filmmaker though he might’ve misinterpreted. In any case Dr Matthews was being targeted by Clayton for membership in a club he called Ashtar Command, a name for Dr Matthews that simultaneously rung a bell, hit a nerve and made him shudder. It was because, he verified later on, his own son had been involved in just such a ‘club’ and Dr Matthews had seen the literature and videos when picking through his browser history those latter days before his son left.
Clayton had an unnerving stare which Dr Matthews supposed the boy interpreted in his own mind as being benevolent or sage. It was invasive and cold.
“Mr…ah” Dr Matthews began, intending to playfully condescend his student, though he had entirely forgotten his surname. Now he stared with that Rasputin stare, that one too lofty for surnames and niceties, smiling placidly, playing his own game of demoralise the prey. Clayton half-heartedly pretended to arrange and pack his folders in his bag while Dr Matthews ascended the steps.
“Oh, Dr Matthews,” Clayton said, oblivious to the excruciating awkwardness of the situation. “I wanted to follow up about our conversation the other week.”
“We’re having a meet tonight, here actually, on campus, and we were all hoping you’d visit and drop some of your scholarly insights—”
“And what will be the topic for discussion?” he said, taking a small break to allow his blood to redistribute and his agitation to subside.
“Well of course,” said Clayton, smart, not smart, some sad in-between, “what is always under discussion; our salvation.”
Dr Matthews let out a terse laugh.