The silent passenger

Writing Prompt – in 500 words, tell the following story:

You’re sitting in an airplane, when someone/something walks on and sits in your aisle and section that makes you gasp. Why? What’s so strange about this person?

I hear the faint buzz of an announcement over my headphones and see the crowds move towards the gate. Like most of the queue, I ignore the instructions to board as per my group number. I eventually board the plane and am greeted by the porcelain smiles and faces of the assorted cabin crew. I’m reminded to go right with both a verbal instruction and a patronising hand gesture that questions my mental ability to deduct turn signals.

I make my way over to the seat and realise I’m in the middle section. I play a game of aircraft bingo to myself. Crying baby. Check. Man with way too much luggage that won’t fit in the overhead locker. Check. Annoying child kicking his seat and peering across the plane like a game hunter on safari. Check.


I realise I’m in the middle of my aisle and hope for the best. I sidle past the annoying kid, unintentionally whacking into his knee but secretly pleased I did so. Soon after, a pale-faced gentleman fills the vacant seat. He looks pale. Too pale. I pray he doesn’t need the sick bag. He dabs away at the beads of sweat forming on his forehead and snorts so voraciously, he startles the annoying child. I try to choose a movie to settle into but I hear a deep bassy rumble that’s definitely not from the crappy airline headphones. The man appears to be doing some kind of meditative breathing exercises. A far too happy pilot makes the announcement ‘Welcome to  Utopian Airways. Your flight time to Auckland will be approximately 17 hours!’ F*** my life!!!!

We take to the skies and I gasp at the whiff of a rancid fart coming from the man’s direction. The annoying child makes a disturbed face. I am almost at my limit but take a leaf from his book and try some deep breathing. Just as the clouds disappear into the distance, the smell slowly fades and all is calm. All loaded up on the complimentary beers, I need to use the facilities. The cabin crew trolley is to the right of the annoying child, so I can’t get another excuse to clatter him on the way up. I reluctantly tap the man on the shoulder so he can let me out. No response. I tap him again and say ‘excuse me’. Nothing. That fart must have sedated the life out of him. At this point I can’t wait any longer, so I climb over him. Still nothing. I do the same thing again as I come back to my seat. I sleep for a few hours and then the food soon arrives and he’s still out like a light. The stewardess opens his tray for him thoughtfully, just in case he gets hungry later. I devour my dinner and dammit, I need the bathroom again. This time there’s no climbing over him. I tap him firmer this time and yell ‘excuse me’. This guy must be dreaming some idyllic shit as there’s no waking this beast. I glance over to his belly and I notice something. Well, more to the point, I don’t notice anything. The guy’s not breathing.


As I steal his bread roll with one hand, (hey come on, he’s not gonna eat it!), I press the call button on the other. ‘Um, excuse me miss, I think there’s something wrong with this guy’. She puts two fingers on his neck and then grins maniacally. She calls her colleague over and whispers lengthily and with great agitation. A man (presumably a doctor) arrives with a stethoscope, sighs and shakes his head. They wrap a blanket over his head, carry him up and another passenger asks if he’s ok. The attendant says ‘Oh its fine. I think he had a little too much to drink so we’re going to move him to the empty section in business.’

I hear the grumbles from the passenger ‘so that’s what it takes to upgrade huh! Typical luck!’.



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