This is another story from a wonderful collection a friend gave me years ago, AMERICAN FANTASTIC TALES, 1940 to the present. I probably would never have picked this collection up were it not for short story Wednesdays.
Deacon Silvey moved from Atlanta to Birmingham, AL after a robbery that scared him. He has substance abuse problems and is stuck doing shift work at various places. While working at a laundromat in Birmingham, a guy named Soda comes in and asks Deke if it's true that he has psychic powers. He asks him if he will use his powers to help a female friend of his. After some attempts to avoid this, Deke agrees.
Sadie Jaspers meets up with Deke and she takes him to the top floor of a building. Deke advises her he just gets impressions so it might not be what she wants. He keeps trying to get her to tell him what she is seeing on that top floor but she insists, it's better if he sees for himself. At the very top, she points to a spot and it turns out the spot is about the way it makes you feel rather than any specific terror. It is not just cold but "indifferent, the freezing temperature of an apathy so absolute, so perfect" that Deacon vomits. He tells her the "thing" doesn't want to be seen. "It wasn't meant to be seen.'
It is hard for me to make this seem frightening here. But the writing is so sharp and these two characters so well fleshed out that we don't see what they don't see and yet believe in it.
Kiernan writes other pieces about this twosome and has published novels as well. Good writing is a reward in itself. Deacon Silvey is a character to remember--just from a 5000 word story. And so too is Sadie Jaspers. If Kiernan had named them John Black and Sara Jones, we would not remember them nearly as well. Names are important. It is easy to forget that.