Werewolf Radar: Rider On The Corn
By Nate Balding
Published Issue 119, November 2023
The month of American thanks be upon us!
With the backstory force-fed to children from sea to shining sea being absolute bullshit, this tall tale from the land of Plymouth Rock — which, by the by, give that a quick Google image search and make wonder at the sheer (lack of) size of the legendary keystone of these United States — should make a nice aperitif to the historically whitewashed conventions of the dankbarkeitsgeist. That’s the Thanksgiving Spirit for people still celebrating Oktoberfest.
It’s said that once upon a time — some time well before the 1830s or 40s when African American shanties celebrating our hero’s tremendous exploits appeared in the musical lexicon — a baby some 3 fathoms by depth (it being a shanty, they utilized the common maritime expression in lieu of the English measurement of 18 feet or the even more accurate Bay Staters’ 617,436 clams big by volume) was discovered beached on the shores of Cape Cod. Nobody spells out what occurred in the interim between this period and the point at which the boy first took to sailing. But we can surmise that there are small islands built on the child’s oceanic waste deposits. Looking at you, Nantucket.
Whether he was mothered by a single woman and fathered by her betrothed or administered to in the most classical terms of “it takes a village” is unknown. But someone, perhaps the boy himself, gave him a name: Alfred Bulltop Stormalong. A name that, honestly, someone should have kept using regardless of the unlikelihood of genealogical affiliation. You know, on account of being a myth. Still.
Later he would be known as Captain and further into his mortal twilight and beyond simply as Old Stormalong (to be pronounced with Fred Gwynne’s accent from the 1989 Pet Sematary). He would ultimately grow to 30 feet and become master and commander of the Courser, a clipper so tall it had masts hinged so as not to snag the moon.
You see how this is already a much better fairytale than Thanksgiving, yeah?
Stories tell that the boy outgrew Cape Cod and with tears (most likely of joy that the incredible burden of a giant-child were ending) streaming down the faces of the citizenry as they bid him bon voyage, Stormalong traveled to Boston to take up his first job as a deckhand at the age of 12. Nary is spoken of the travels at sea except that at some point his vessel was attacked by the nefarious Kraken, a sea demon best known for plaguing the vikings of yore, and Stormalong heaved to, leaping overboard to battle the beast in its own element. He intended to kill but, nay, t’was not to be. The beast wriggled from his grasp and escaped. Stormalong, bereft in his failure, retired to farm somewhere in the Midwest.
But a sea-borne boy could nae resist its siren’s song. Also he was catching a lot of very passive-aggressive Midwestern politeness every time he showed up at the Culver’s to once again order the entire menu (and on credit no less; have you seen what farmers make?) and felt like it was time to leave. So return to the briny did he.
Like all nebulous biomes — and this explicitly includes Las Vegas as was made clear in a very annoying ad campaign — stories made on the ocean tend to remain with the ocean, and Stormalong’s are no exception. We’ve not caught so much as the salty whisper of how he came to captain the Courser (also named the Tuscarora depending on the telling), or even how he came to possess such a ship, which is said to require a corral of Arabian stallions to ferry the crew from bow to stern. One story that is told, however, is of the creation of the Panama Canal. Sure, your woke-ass history books will tell you it was largely the low-wage labor of thousands of people being worked near-to-death in the name of shipping capital. But the real story? Well that, my friends, is because a blind drunk Captain Alfred Bulltop Stormalong wanted to get to the Pacific so badly he just rammed on through, leaving a perfectly shaped conduit in his wake. Just more proof in the long list of reasons to trust every time-saving idea you have while wasted.
That wouldn’t be the only narrow pelagic interaction the captain would come to be known for. With the Icarian hubris of a child testing their nasal capacity with Skittles, Captain Stormalong managed to parody a future marine folly and lodge his ship in the English Channel. The solution was obvious. Apply enough soap to the hull and bango-bongo, it’ll slide on through. Which it did. Directly into the suction-puckered limbs of the very Kraken Stormalong had battled all those years before. It found no purchase on the sudsy ship however, and was forced to retreat. But that unreasonable application of Scrubbing Bubbles remains the reason that, to this day, the Cliffs of Dover bear their ivory sheen.
A final reckoning with the malicious monstrosity occurred off the coast of Greece where Stormalong, summoning Super Mario-level plumbing power, flushed it into the whirlpool Charybdis, funneling it directly to Hades.
Stormalong’s life would come to a fatal end after winning a Transatlantic Race on a dare from some upstart young captain who thought, against all odds, that he could beat a 30-foot tall guy who punched a monster into Greek Hell. Stormalong wins, of course, but age and anxiety took its toll and the former biggest baby in Cape Cod (I’m positive there are regional politics that would countenance a more recent competitor) collapsed, his body returned to the sea from whence it came. Davy Jones himself opened up his mystical locker (not a euphemism despite ubiquitous rumors about men at sea) to receive the legend, ever to dwell in his watery tomb.
As tales from Massachusetts go, I’d say this one’s got the Pilgrims plum beat.
Have questions about the paranormal?
Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @WerewolfRadar.
It’s a big, weird world. Don’t be scared. Be Prepared.
Nate Balding is a freelance humanoid who occasionally manifests in print and can most likely be seen at Werewolf Radar. Should you wish to hear him manifest audibly you can do so at the aforementioned Werewolf Radar’s associated podcast on Spotify and Apple, and if anything ever becomes humorous again, on a variety of stand up stages around the nation. If you’re truly craving further content there’s always @Exploder on Twitter — even if it is only a form of digital self flagellation at this point. His one thing that he considers actually accomplished was this time he was published in the journal Nature and then later collected into a volume called Futures from Nature, still available in places that have things.