It was while I was walking to the toilet at the back of the aeroplane that it first happened. It sounds crazy, but I swear it was like something or someone had suddenly crept up in the dark and tickled me from behind. I turned around sharply, expecting to find some drunken lech who couldn’t keep his hands to himself but all I could see was a dark, empty aisle, illuminated by a weak set of floor lights. Row upon row of passengers, shrouded in scratchy blue blankets, were either sleeping or yawning their way through the in-flight movie.
I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. I couldn’t breathe. My eyes frantically searched left and right trying desperately to see something that would explain what just happened. I’d walked past ten rows and was only yards away from the washroom when it occurred. To my right, a small child, a little girl no older than three or four, slept soundlessly in her chair, her tiny head leaning against her mother’s shoulder. Underneath her blanket, two fluffy, pink bunny ears stuck out awkwardly. I remembered her from the airport; the exhausted mother had held her daughter tightly all through the four hour delay, trying deperately to rock her into a slumber. The kid – exhausted and irritable – writhed and moaned the entire time, unable to fall asleep in the cold, uncomfortable lounge. I had watched her hurl her cuddly toy – a pink rabbit – onto the floor more than once, from fatigue and frustration. She was practically out cold now; she probably fell asleep the second her mother had settled her onto the flight. There was no way she had reached up to touch me. It wasn’t her. It just couldn’t have been. But, on the other side, to the left, was an empty row of seats.
I hesitantly rubbed my ribs, still feeling the lingering touch of whoever – or whatever – had crossed the line seconds earlier. Feeling scared, I turned and rushed to the toilet cubicle. Once locked inside the cramped, tiny space I finally exhaled and tried to think logically about the terrifying incident.