Scout & Birdie
Scout & Birdie


“Astral projection is a powerful out-of-body experience, during which one's soul separates from the physical body and traverses the astral plane.”

The futon in my childhood home presses indignantly against my skin. Scratchy. Lightly caved in from years of my curled, resting body. I’m awake but my eyes won’t open. I hear a sound like crinkling plastic shopping bags next to my left ear. I jolt upright and slip out of my torso. What the fuck?

I’m a mist of myself. Only attached to my legs. I focus on my breathing. Is this lucid dreaming? I turn my eyes (if you can call them eyes) forward.

They stick to a dark figure at the top of my stairs. No face. No expression. His entire body is lazy black smoke drifting within the outline of a man. His limbs have the stillness of a cat preparing to pounce. The faceless face twists toward me.


I slam myself back into my torso and wake with a sharp inhale.

“The reason that sleep paralysis happens is that the body immobilizes during REM sleep… and it is the time during sleep when you have dreams… Those with sleep paralysis wake up while the brain is still in REM sleep mode and the body is still immobilized.”
- SimplyHealth.iO


“The doppelganger is a word still used today to refer to a person that is physically or behaviorally similar to another person… They were generally considered to be omens of bad luck or even signs of impending death.”

I’m awake again. Cement arms pressing through my couch, super-glued eyelids. I can hear my roommate Laura scuffling around her room at the other end of our apartment, but my sight is stuck in this half-place.

There’s a second Laura sitting directly in front of me. She sprawls across my favorite deep gold chair.

“Did you have a good nap?” She smiles.
“I didn’t realize I’d fallen asleep.”
“Did you dream?”
“Am I dreaming now?”

I can still hear Laura shifting furniture in her room.

“Kathleen, have you heard of the spirits that look like people you know?”

Her smile begins to widen grotesquely past the edges of her cheeks. I try to scream. Really build a scream inside the corpse from which I’d come unstitched. She’s laughing now. A low, fat chuckle. Her fingers begin to dissolve into black smoke.

Finally, I feel the tiniest rumble in my body’s throat. I wake up crying.

“Hypnogogia and sleep paralysis often cause fear, more so than in sleep paralysis during hypnopompia… Common hypnopompic experiences include the sensation of falling and the feeling of a presence in the room.”


“An incubus is a lusty male demon who satisfies his sexual urges by attacking women while they sleep… He takes precautions to keep her from interfering. He might put her in a trance so that she is unable to wake up.”

Sweat is collecting between the arch of my lower back and my comforter. My rotating fan is struggling to beat the July heatwave back from my naked body. I’m paralyzed again. I know what this is now. I just need to stay calm for a few minutes and I’ll be awake.

My fan suddenly carries the noise of a crowd cheering from far away. I imagine the joyful cacophony traveling to me from a shirtless band from the sixties.

The crowd cheers again. Closer this time. I can almost smell the impotent weed.

A deafening roar from an animal I’ve never heard before.

This isn’t real.

He’s standing at the edge of my bed. All black smoke and stillness. He seems docile today.


I thought it this time. The strangest hypothetical popped into my head and he heard. It’s too late now. He’s crawling over me. Slowly. I feel him slide inside of me, pulsing like a jellyfish.

I wake up wet.

“Just why or how it happens isn't clear... Clearly, an episode of sleep paralysis can be scary, which has led to some unorthodox theories. Research shows that people in countries as diverse as China, East Africa, Mexico, Newfoundland, and the United States have long believed that paralysis is caused by demons, witches, or other supernatural creatures sitting on their chests and sometimes trying to have sex with them.”

Why are we all sharing these hallucinations?

Why are we all sharing these hallucinations?

Why are we all sharing these hallucinations?


About the artist...

Kathleen Kinlin is a writer and performer based in Chicago. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Comedy Writing and Performance. Kathleen’s writing has been published by The Queer Foundation, Say Si Foundation, The Odyssey’s Print Edition, and Columbia College Chicago’s Digital Senior Showcase. Kathleen balances her sad poetry with improvising with her improv team Sprang and is thrilled to have been added to iO’s roster of Harold performers. In addition to writing and improvising, Kathleen frequently performs solo performance pieces and sketch comedy around the city.

Twitter: KathleenKinlin

Want to see more of Kathleen’s work?

Check out her piece, Evolution of a Ghost, from Issue VIII: The Witching Hour!