The applause rose from the audience as the lecturer left the podium. Mark looked over his notes, scribbled in his own handwriting he would have to decipher later. The speech had been a pretty standard one from a visiting political wonk the university had hauled in; nothing new or groundbreaking was said during the speech. The lecture wasn’t why his hands shook as he closed his notebook and shoved it into the backpack at his feet. That was all the fault of the creepy old man sitting two rows up and several seats over from him. Shrunken and wrinkled like a balled up piece of paper, he was out of place in the sea of young faces, and that’s what first caught Mark’s attention. After about fifteen minutes, Mark was more concerned with the glances the old man kept sending him. They started off furtive, then became bolder, until the geezer was straight up staring him down. Mark tried to keep his eyes on the speaker, and his notes, but his skin crawled with the old man’s gaze.
As the crowd thinned out, he shot a glance towards where the man had been sitting. He was gone. Mark scanned the room. The lights were up and there were no shadows for anyone to hide in, but it was a long moment before he could gather the courage to stand up and shuffle down the row of seats to the aisle.