The one down side to being an author of horror stories is the fact it becomes increasingly difficult over time to find anything that legitimately unnerves me. I enjoy reading horror fiction as much as writing it and there are a range of incredibly talented writers whose work I’ve enjoyed tremendously, but it’s a rare occasion these days when a tale really gets under my skin.
Terry M. West’s latest offering “Transfer” blindsided me by doing just that. I was thinking about this story for days after I finished it and, if I’m being completely honest, it’s still very much on my mind as I pen this review.
The plot follows Nick Enlow and Howie Payne, employees of Big Carl’s Video Transfer Service. They work the night shift together and, as the story opens, we quickly understand they’ve developed a strong bond.
While going about their business one night, the pair discover an AVI clip from an unknown source has appeared on their public drive. Examining the clip, they are at first intrigued – then gradually terrified - to discover it opens a window to a strange world of rot and ruin. Even more disturbing, this bizarre place is occupied by several ghoulish figures, one of whom is most certainly not human.
This is the Screamer. Welcome to the green room.
Here’s the thing about Terry M. West: He has an uncanny ability to invest his characters with such recognizable humanity the dynamics between them prove to be as interesting as the supernatural elements of the narrative. This is never more evident than in “Transfer”. The heart and soul of the story is found in the bond between Nick and Howie and – as events increasingly draw them toward the nightmarish conclusion - I found myself really caring about their respective fates. West understands the unique chemistry of close friendships and that resonates on every page.
As dramatically on point as “Transfer” is, the story also pays its dues as a top notch terror tale. One thing that always effects me more deeply than most types of horror are stories drenched in decay. West taps into that discomfort masterfully here. As scary as the Screamer is, what really raised the goose-flesh for this reader were the creepy, skin-crawling passages set inside the green room. I felt shivers run down my spine more than few times reading this one.
“Transfer” is a fantastic read. It’s imaginative and original, a smart, scary and even poignant trip into the darkness that stands as Terry M. West’s best work since the collection “What Price Gory?”. This is next level material and should be considered essential reading for horror fans.