Norman Prentiss

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May 27

Boardwalk Thrill Ride

(An Odd Adventure with your Other Father, part 1)


“Celia, as much as your other father hated water, my chances of getting Jack near the beach were pretty slim.  That year-long vacation after our senior year brought us close to monsters and magic, but kept us pretty far from sand and surf.

“We did make it to the beach that one time, during Memorial Day weekend, but it wasn’t the call of the ocean that lured Jack.  More like the promised thrills of a particular carnival attraction: the haunted house ride on the south end of the boardwalk.

“I’ll tell you about that ride now, and later this weekend you’ll get to experience it yourself.

“Though let’s hope, while you’re in that coffin-shaped railcar traveling from one scare set-up to another, you don’t actually see the world end,  the way I did those thirty-odd years ago…”




Traffic was seriously backed up:  the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was only twelve miles away, but at the rate we were crawling, it would take us an hour, maybe two, to reach it.

“You had to pick Memorial Day weekend,” Jack grumbled. “Everybody’s headed ‘down the ocean’ today.”

“It’s a beautiful, sunny day,  That’s why the road’s so crowded.”  We had the windows rolled down, because the VW Bug didn’t have air-conditioning.  Trouble was, we couldn’t build up enough speed to circulate any air.  I tried to remedy the situation by fanning myself with a folded road map.

“You know,” Jack said, “the energy you expend waving that thing actually cancels out the cooling effect.”

“I’ll take the risk.”  Then I fanned him a little bit.  He didn’t tell me to stop, so it must have worked.

We moved forward a bit, then the cars in front stopped again.  In the surrounding lanes, cars seemed to have better luck.  A blue van with a surfboard attached to the roof passed on our right.

“Hey, didn’t that guy cut us off a few miles back?”  Jack typically kept a mental list of other drivers who “wronged” us.  “I should play with him a bit.”

“Don’t,” I said.  “Remember Rule #1:  Not while we’re driving.”

Jack laughed.  “You can’t seriously call this driving.  We’ve barely moved an inch.”

The left- and right-lane traffic had slowed to match our own snail’s pace.  A few car-lengths ahead, a small bird flew over the blue van and did what birds usually do to a windshield.

Even from a distance, I could tell the bird was uglier than the usual gulls we’d spot along this stretch of highway.  Instead of white or gray, it’s feathers were a stark, shimmering black — as if it had been rolled in oil or tar.  The head was large, supported by a strange curved neck like a vulture’s.  It’s thick reptile legs almost prehistoric, and the body seemed too heavy to be supported by the lazy flaps of the bird’s wings.

The other detail, too gruesome to miss:  the volume of white waste dropping from the bird onto the van, splashing onto the surfboard, foaming onto the roof and coating sections of metallic blue.  Then more splashing down, the chunked liquid growing darker, like something from a human, a horse, then an elephant with impossible diarrhea.

Until the van was completely covered.

(Don’t laugh, Celia.  It’s really childish humor, don’t you think?)

In that heat, the awful pile of animal waste should have produced a horrible stench.  Remember, we had our car windows rolled down.

But I couldn’t smell a thing.  That was one of the fortunate limitations  of Jack’s illusions:  they were visual images, but they didn’t make wet plopping sounds, didn’t stir up nasty odors.

“Not while we’re driving, Jack.”

He didn’t respond.  When the cars in front started moving again, Jack shifted the Beetle back into first gear, and the mess over the offending car magically disappeared.

I was the only one who got to see it.  Lucky me.

This was going to be a long trip.


[…continued tomorrow…]

NEW novel LIFE IN A HAUNTED HOUSE, now available!

Life in a Haunted House is now available at Amazon for only $2.99

“Prentiss continues to chart his own path through the horror genre, a path which more often than not is haunted by the monsters hiding inside us rather than slavering demons or serial killers…A poignantly moving, sometimes funny and oftentimes bittersweet human portrayal of a young man trying to make sense of his parents’ divorce, his place in the world, and the true meaning of friendship…I can do no less than give Life in a Haunted House my highest recommendation.” — Cemetery Dance Online [for the full review, click here:]

**Only $2.99!**  Click the cover below to learn more or to purchase the eBook!

About the book:  

Brendan has always been fascinated by the low-budget horror films of Bud Preston. Imagine his surprise when he moves to a new town and discovers a high school classmate is the daughter of his favorite director. Melissa Preston’s home contains exciting secrets about such strange films as THE STONE STAIRWAY and THE DUNGEON OF COUNT VERLOCK. But Brendan’s film-fan obsessions threaten to undermine his new friendship…before he can truly understand what it means to spend LIFE IN A HAUNTED HOUSE.

Alongside the book’s release, I’m also offering previously unpublished stories — 9,000 word “novelizations” of films by the low-budget director featured in the novel.

As some of you may recall, “The Dungeon of Count Verlock” was Bud “Budget” Preston’s only vampire film.  “The Lake Monster” was his Black Lagoon-style chiller. And “The Space Visitor” was his low-budget sci-fi epic:


…To read the full Count Verlock story online for free on my website, click here…

…Or visit Cemetery Dance Online to read the full Lake Monster story…

…If you’d prefer eBook versions for 99 cents each, click each cover above to visit Amazon…

Special Crazy Bonus Sale!  By a strange coincidence, my first novel, ODD ADVENTURES WITH YOUR OTHER FATHER, is also discounted to 99 cents at Amazon US and Canada, throughout the month of May!

New Blog of Free Fiction: “Excerpts from The Apocalypse-a-Day Desk Calendar”

The Blog to End all Blogs??  -or- Killing the World, One Day at a Time…

Starting today, as one of my more ambitious New Year’s resolutions, I’m beginning a new blog that I’d initially envisioned as a short story: flash fiction pieces that might have appeared on a hypothetical page-a-day desk calendar.  You know–those mini-calendars you might buy on the cheap during after-holiday sales.  But instead of Possessed Cat Pictures or Peanuts cartoons, my imaginary calendar would present holiday-themed apocalypse scenarios.  I would pick the “usual suspect” holidays, and write a doom-filled flash entry for each, and the story would be titled “Excerpts from The Apocalypse-a-Day Desk Calendar.”

But as I got going, researching which days to try and drafting a few entries, I decided to take the challenge further.  Why not actually attempt the entire desk calendar?  365 entries…

And if I posted the entries on my website, at a dedicated page, it would be even cheaper than the 75% discount for a Literary Quotations calendar I bought last year…

I’m probably out of my mind for trying this.  365 stories is a lot.  I’ll probably repeat myself.  Life, and other writing projects, will get in the way.  I could have technical difficulties with my website.  It’s going to be really tough to keep up.

But *all* New Year’s resolutions are ridiculous and ambitious.  That’s not going to stop me from trying.

And, just to cover my bases, I’m keeping the original title:  “EXCERPTS from The Apocalypse-a-Day Desk Calendar.”  Whatever happens, I’ll still be sharing a lot of free fiction! 🙂

Check out the first entry here (appropriately titled January 1: New Year’s Day), and please keep coming back for daily updates:

Or click the bleak image below, or try the banner on the right column of the website.

(Oh dear, I hope it’s not a leap year…)

The Apocalypse-a-Day Desk Calendar




Now available in Trade Paperback, my horror/LGBT roadtrip adventure novel, ODD ADVENTURES WITH YOUR OTHER FATHER:

*only $12.99 at Amazon

*and at Barnes and Noble

[Note:  the ebook version is available exclusively at Amazon, for only $2.99]


“It’s rare that I can truly say that I’ve never read anything like this before, but Odd Adventures with your Other Father is a unique creature. Norman Prentiss has given us a tale that’s funny, surreal, touching, magical, and heartbreaking, and we’re in the hands of a master storyteller from beginning to end.” — Jeff Strand, author of Blister, Dweller, and I Have a Bad Feeling About This


Also, for a limited time, my Bram Stoker Award-winning novella, INVISIBLE FENCES, is being offered FREE at Amazon U.S. and Barnes & Noble. Be sure to get a copy!  (Any posted reviews at retail sites would be greatly appreciated!!)

“Cemetery Dance’s short novel program yields another gem with this sobering story about the imaginary barriers of fear we place around our life circumstances as we grow up… Carefully crafted prose… a lucid reflection on life’s inevitable burden of fear and fractured memory.” — Booklist


TWO eBook collections for FREE!

Sign up for the Norman Prentiss Newsletter and get TWO eBook collections for FREE!

Click a cover below to get started:

InTheBestStoriesSubtitleQueer Panics

IN THE BEST STORIES… is a mini-collection of my 4 best tales: “Glue Traps,” “In the Porches of My Ears” (Bram Stoker Award-winner for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction), “In the Best Stories…” and “Four Legs in the Morning.”

QUEER PANICS contains 5 gay-themed horror stories: “The Shell (A Zombie Approximation),” “Interval,” “The Transfer Student,” and “The Well-Adjusted Child,” along with a never-before-published haunted house tale, “Panic.”

Each collection includes detailed notes about the composition and/or publication history of all the stories.