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GateCrashers Investigation of Double Walker

Day 1

Art by Noah Bailey

I don’t believe in the supernatural. I don’t believe that the things that go bump in the night are anything even close to a ghoul or goblin. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want them to be real. I desperately want them to be real. 

What I wouldn’t give to come face to face with a swamp monster or a vampire. But it won’t happen, because those things do not exist. Now I know what you’re probably saying right now. 

“What about fae, witches, and the stuff that’s been happening over and over since the dawn of storytelling began?”

To that I say, again, I wish it was real. 

So I guess that’s why I’m here. I read Double Walker by Michael Conrad, Noah Bailey, and Taylor Esposito about the “real encounter” that two tourists had in Scotland. Both of them swore to me that it was real. So I decided to go. I decided to find out for myself if there is a world inside those puddles. A world that I can’t see.

Things haven’t gotten off to a great start. At every turn, the town’s locals try avoiding the journalist who wants to ask them about what happened. It’s okay though, I’d be avoidant of a US journalist too. 

Outside of the town is a different story altogether. Plenty of folks tell me about the faeries and creatures that live beyond the confines of modern society, hiding in the shadows of places we’re not allowed to be. The skinwalkers and such. I think most of them agree Nessie is a myth. I did visit Loch Ness, as any good tourist does, but the thick fog rolling off the water did seem a bit more uncanny than what I’m used to. 

Once I got back to the bed and breakfast I was staying at, I found out it was under new management… the former owner had been brutally murdered.

I went to bed with the bathroom light on and a sleep playlist from my phone trying desperately to lull me to sleep. 

Day 2

Art by Noah Bailey

Most of my day was spent just trying to get anyone to talk to me about the recent events. Luck wasn’t on my side. There are far too many unaccounted for gruesome deaths for no one to have seen anything or have any answers. 

I was getting frustratingly nowhere questioning the townsfolk, so I thought maybe it was best to clear my head with a hike and find some clean crisp air. The Old Man of Storr they call it. Something about a really large man or god or something that laid down and eventually made these vast rocky hills. They say the fae have been kept busy feasting on his flesh, which is why you don’t often see them. 

Again, I didn’t believe it and so far, I’d come no closer to finding any proof. It all seemed rather made up. The air was quite thin when I finally reached the peak. I stood for some time staring at the horizon. All that I could see was a rather large bird in the distance. I don’t know bird species all that well, but whatever this one was, it looked rather sickly. I don’t know if it was the air, but it looked like its stomach was split open. It had to be the air.

Right?

On my walk back to the Bed & Breakfast, I felt as if someone was watching me.

I slept with the bathroom light on and my sleep playlist playing on my phone.

Day 3

Art by Noah Bailey

My final day in Scotland. I thought I may as well spend it in the pub. I asked my friend Cargill if he knew of one in my area, and was swiftly directed to The Mangled Stag. For a majority of the day, I sat away from the bar itself to listen to the people coming and going. Not a word was uttered about the murders. 

Were they avoiding talking about it because I was here? People died and no one has even whispered about it. Everything about this is so strange. 

The bar was rather unremarkable. It was clearly aged, but in a good way. As if the culture and history of these people were soaked deep into the wood. Strangely though, the bathroom was entirely redone. Brand new. The floor seemed to have been recently ripped up for some reason. 

After guzzling enough pints of courage, I sat myself at the bar and asked the bartender to tell me about the area; to humor a tourist with a story about the local monsters. 

I was drunk, but I could see the hesitation in his face. I could see his reluctance to tell me, but with the amount of money I dropped, maybe he began to feel sorry for me.

He told me about something called a “Trow;” a small plump and shy little miscreant that broke into homes as people slept to steal things. They live in trowie knowes, which are just like mounds of dirt. I made a joke that they were Scottish hobbits. Not sure he found it funny. I thanked him for the tale and excused myself to return to the B&B to get some sleep for my early flight.

I slept with the bathroom light on and my sleep playlist playing on my phone.

My eyes opened as I heard something scrape harshly on my bedside. I quickly ran the “there are no bumps in the night” mantra in my head as I could hear my music being muffled. A small misshapen and wrinkled hand clasped around my phone as it sang quietly to itself. I tried to keep my eyes as tightly closed as I could, but I just had to see. 

From between my nearly shut eyelids, I watched as this thing used its free hand to drag itself away from my nightstand. Its face was contoured and grotesque, but it didn’t look angry. It seemed to love the music playing from the phone. The bartender had mentioned that trows loved music… that they’d often lure musicians to their dens. It started bouncing on it’s eerie legless body towards the door. This had to be a nightmare. I closed my eyes. None of this was real.

Art by Noah Bailey

Day 4

I couldn’t find my phone when I woke up.


Double Walker is available now on Comixology.

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Review: Double Walker – Thoir dhomh fear eile (Pour Me Another)

Tha Dia Gad Dhion. Gibberish to most, but to the Northern Scots these Gaelic words hang heavier in the air than their morning fog: “God Protects You”. Our young lovers Emma and Cully, unfamiliar with this native tongue, spend their “baby-moon” gallivanting across the highlands in search of the last thrill before their bundle of joy arrives. Friendly locals, including a dear Bed & Breakfast owner, impart their wisdom on these two about the haunted lands they are to see, but like most in their situation, it’s played off as mere fairy tales to get a rise out of visitors. One fateful hiking trip leads these two down a dark and winding road where even the reader is left in the dark until the very last panel. In Double Walker, we see a monster take shape, but maybe not one from the hills, but rather from the deep recesses of one’s mind.

Before diving in further, it’s important to unveil my own relationship to this particular narrative. My Grandmother was 5 years old when they sent her up to the highlands as a safety precaution during the air raids of World War II. Her knowledge of the area was limited to tales her own uncles would tell her after their trips to Speyside for the finest single malt scotch whisky. Unlike the Pevensie children of the Narnia series who languished in an estate, her lodgings were in a modest house on the outskirts of a village with two of her sisters. She didn’t relay much information to me, as even she states she was too young to remember it all, but her time in the highlands left her something she did choose to impart. “The land is old up there, but there are things up there that are much, much older.”

My love for horror may only be outweighed by my love for Scotland. Suffice to say, I was engrossed before I even lifted the first page. The dreary, yet can’t look away illustrations from Noah Bailey gives the readers hesitation to turn the next page, not due to contempt, but rather due to fear. From the faces filled with horror to these creatures that go bump in the night, the artistry grabs you and doesn’t let go. The limited color palette, heavily leaning on greys, still gives us this contrast of the beauty of Scotland and the bleakness of the unfolding story. This is where writer Michael W. Conrad cements his name as a prolific storyteller and one whose name will become synonymous with terror in the near future. He shapes relatable characters from the first few panels, one whose story you want to hear, and futures you are vested in.

There are moments where the reader will have to collect their thoughts, and breath, as we uncover more, yet still feel left in the dark. The highest praise I can say is it reads like a classic King tale; the story grips you and drags you through the emotional gamut, unrelenting, uncompromising, and unsettling, but you absolutely love it.

Conrad and Bailey did not disappoint as this is my top recommendation right now especially to those who are looking for something to read on one of those summer nights where the thunder is crashing down, the rain is pelting the window, and the only solace is a blanket. So pour yourself a cup of tea, or perhaps even a glass of the good stuff, as you venture to a place where the line between the worlds is thinner than most. As you’ll soon find out, there aren’t many happy endings in Scottish Fae Tales.