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Placidity Row

Estimated reading time — 10 minutes

I’ve often thought it likely, though have no way to really prove, that in every sizable town in America there is at least one area that feels a bit strange somehow. Maybe it’s a single building that was witness to a grisly murder or maybe it’s a slum full of forgotten people with forgotten dreams. Either way, those who set foot in the area will often describe an overhanging sense of sadness or malaise or even evil. This is, of course, far from a rational feeling and yet when even animals seem to avoid the area or cars consistently break down there, it makes even the most skeptical observer start to wonder. In our town, the most well known of these areas is called Placidity Row.

It’s not some old wealthy area filled with haunted Victorian mansions, nor is it a rundown urban redline. Though, this damn city has quite enough of both. Placidity Row is a product of the construction boom of the prosperous 80s. It was the sort of green little enclave that songs like Pleasant Valley Sunday were written about- full of smiling neighbors, idyllic little picnic areas, and soccer moms driving SUVs. Within a couple of years of its construction, it was already garnering accolades as one of the best places for thirty something yuppies making it big in the city to move with their families. Easy access, good schools, Placidity Row had it all. Note how I said, “was” and “had.”

Somewhere around 2005, Placidity Row changed. Despite being less than 200 yards from a cell phone tower, phones in the area completely died. At most they would display zero bars but usually they wouldn’t turn on at all. Days with the power out began to outnumber days with power. Wi-fi access was out of the question even for the communications companies. GPS was completely nonfunctional and even newer model cars would stall out in the middle of the street.

If that had been the only issue, we might have blamed signal blocking lead deposits in the ground or something. It was only the beginning of Placidity Row’s strangeness, though. Even on those rare days when the power came on, refrigeration began to malfunction. No, not malfunction. A better term would be, “cease to have any physical effect.” Meat bought new and kept in the fridge would rot like it had been set out at room temperature. Milk would curdle the same way.

Even the open air seemed to be almost soaked with death. Bananas would go from lush green to brown in only half a day. An open can of soda would be flat within an hour.

In the 90s, EMTs and police began responding to an increasingly bizarre array of 911 calls. A housewife, Susan Kimura murders her two year-old cousin in an oven because the knocks on her walls “told her to.” Residents claimed that strange lights in the sky would lurk outside their windows until viewed and then fly off at seemingly impossible speeds. An old man was nearly beaten to death by neighborhood teenagers and one middle-aged woman because they were convinced that he was a sorcerer. City workers reported finding a flock of geese dead on the outskirts of the development. Animal control is still completely baffled as to what could possibly have killed them.

One year ago the entire city was in a panic as a seemingly healthy 20 year old woman from the Row turned up dead on the playground from what all signs pointed to as being a strain of the Ebola virus. Yet, just as mysteriously as she turned up, there were no other infections reported. Furthermore, when the poor woman’s body was delivered up for autopsy later that day, she seemed to have aged 70 years.

The most common unexplained incident at Placidity Row, though, has to have been reports of a team of phantom horsemen. They would race through the streets of the Row at incredible speed either in the afternoon or the middle of the night. Both people who were outside at the time and those indoors reported hearing the hoof beats and snorts of the horses but most often seeing nothing even when it sounded as though the horses were passing within feat of them. A minority reported a loud human voice uttering monosyllabic commands to the invisible beasts. Only five residents, however, reported actually seeing the phenomenon.

The five witnesses; an elderly couple, a single man in his mid thirties, and two siblings aged ten and eighteen, are all for the most part consistent in their description of the “apparition.” The witnesses all agree that the horses passed in such a blur that it is hard for them believe that they even saw anything at all. The woman, one Maria Knudsen, apparently something of a mystic, offered the suggestion to police that the witnesses in fact perceived the horses only with their mind’s eyes and recommends full psychic examinations on each witness. The department is “taking the suggestion under advisement.”


They also all describe a team of four horses, ranging from dark brown to black in color with a light grey horse in the lead. All the witnesses differ on the question of riders. The Knudsen’s claimed to see five separate riders for five separate horses, each of them seeming to be bald men of indeterminate race clothed in loose fitting fur robes (ranging from splendid and colorful to faded greyish brown) with brass circlets on their heads and long swords at their sides.

The other witnesses give a similar general description but only report seeing one to four riders, though all mention the lead rider. The thirty-five year-old man, Victor Kimura (a distant cousin of the Mrs. Susan Kimura who murdered her child), claimed that two or three identical riders seemed to motionlessly phase in and out between the horses before vanishing. Mr. Kimura admits that he was highly intoxicated at the time of his sighting, however.

Eight years after the first recorded anomaly at Placidity Row, all residents have moved elsewhere. The city prepared to demolish the subdivision before the houses became unsafe, having finally despaired of attracting new residents to the area. My sister, Sophie, and I are insurance investigators with World Farms. Ours was one of several companies that rushed to clear out the remaining Placidity Row accounts on its books. On August 19, 2013, our particular task was to investigate three houses on the south side of the Row and assess the losses they pose to the company.

We arrived at Sunshine Street, Placidity Row at 9 AM. Although the drive in from downtown had been pleasant and sunny, when we arrived at the Row (we parked outside of it and walked in) everything in the atmosphere of the place felt as odd as the various reports made it out to be. The air hung still and not a sound could be heard. Everywhere, there was a strong odor of burnt rubber that neither of us could place.

“Well, this still seems like a happenin’ place,” said Sophie as she swept her eyes over the line of faded-yet-identical-save-for-color houses. “I can’t imagine why nobody wants to live here anymore.”

“Well, if you’re looking for excitement, maybe you can dodge some falling roof beams in one of the condemned houses round here,” I said. “Or maybe we can get you an invisible pony ride.”

Sophie and I can be kind of brutal to one another sometimes. It’s only because we’ve seen so much weird shit over the years on this job. When I think back on all the times we’ve saved one another in the nick of time from some floor collapse in an abandoned apartment building or tweaked out squatter with a shotgun… But, I digress.

The first house on the list actually happened to be the former Lars and Maria Knudsen residence. Despite having been empty for the past seven years, the place was still remarkably neat and clean. The Knudsens were some of the last holdouts on the Row, insisting that the horsemen were only there to cleanse the land of the guilty or something like that.

Being in their 80s, the Knudsens wound up leaving many of their possessions and furniture behind them when they left for what I assume was assisted living. Oddly though, in a neighborhood where everything seemed to rot somehow, the Knudsens’ old furniture seemed like it had been recently dusted and polished.

“Think we’ve got squatters?” said Sophie.

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“Unusually clean yet suicidal stalkers, maybe,” I said, half joking and half hoping that’s what it was because honestly this house was beginning to freak me out a bit.

My thumb hovered over the stun gun in my pocket as I climbed the unnaturally swept stairway. Sophie stayed behind to check the ground floor for water damage. I was relieved to find that the second floor hallway, at least, was a mess of peeled plaster and drywall chunks.

I made my way to what must have been the master bedroom, what I could tell was dried blood caked the walls. In the corner was a small altar where someone had been sacrificing what appeared from the skeletons to be pigeons and rats. It was some kind of Norse pagan ritual judging from the runes smeared above it.

In the center of the room where the bed used to be was a large blue binder. I picked it up and leafed through what appeared to be rough facsimiles of old Viking documents. I couldn’t read anything but the flat, medieval illustrations made the subject matter clear. The Knudsens were apparently Shamans of some kind desperately entreating the Norse gods to either punish the people of Placidity Row (based on the first few pages which see our horsemen friends descending on a battlefield of dismembered limbs) or to save them (based on the following pages, in which the horsemen seem to turn on the male and female Shaman figures and cause them to cower beneath what seemed to be an image of a pagan god.


As much as we needed this paycheck, Sophie and I decided not to be stereotypical horror movie victims that day and began the long, nervous walk back to our car. We took the binder with us, planning to look for where the Knudsen’s were staying.

We took the route that we thought would at least lead us to Bill Kitchener’s team from Workman’s Insurance for some safety in numbers. I gritted my teeth knowing what macho man Bill would say about us getting a little scared of an area that had reported no criminal activity in years. Sophie just smirked and pretended not to notice.

A few blocks up the road, we found Bill’s team. They were dead in middle of the street. They seemed to have aged 70 years just like that poor woman from the Row. Their bodies were covered in small cuts and lesions, but there none of them seemed to break the skin more than a little.

“I can’t imagine these cuts killing a bunch of healthy guys,” said Sophie.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a man with black hair in a heavy brown overcoat lurking in the shadows beside one of the garages. He bolted as soon as I turned my head. We tried to give chase but I could have sworn he was running at 40 miles per hour. He turned a corner far ahead of us and disappeared. Loud sounds of hoof beats on asphalt accompanied by fierce yells seemed to come from all directions at once. We ran for the nearest house, not even stopping to notice that the door should have been locked.

Inside we came face to face with an Asian man looking to be in his mid thirties wearing a heavy brown overcoat and shotguning a fourth of whiskey. In the corner lay the body of an elderly Asian woman who I could tell right away was Susan Kimura.

“Victor, why did you kill your cousin?” I said on a hunch.

As he lowered the bottle to speak, I nearly recoiled at the sight of Victor’s face. He was more than just a haggard drunk. He looked like he should not even be alive. His skin was gray and blotchy. The tacks under his dull bloodshot eyes were so deep you could see red. His gums were almost black and his teeth looked ready to fall out at the slightest touch.

Victor hurled the now empty bottle aside, not even flinching as it shattered. “The bitch isn’t my cousin, she’s my damn mother. Besides, you can’t kill what was already dead.”

“Look!” said Sophie. I turned to the foot of the stairs to see a bald, yet beautiful young Asian woman in fur robes with a brass circlet on her head.


“My son and I are what in English are called Wild Hunters. We are tasked with regularly weeding out the souls of the foolish and rewarding those who show deference to the name of the old gods,” said Susan. “I came to this barren and spiritually dead city hoping to make a mortal life for my infant son away from so much carnage. But Nordic Shamans sensed our presence and sought to use us to bring revival to this place. When I resisted, they cast a spell of madness over me and I turned my only boy into… this ungrateful pup.”

“That’s right. Just blame the geezers for everything like you always do,” said Victor from the kitchen where he sat on the floor nursing a headache. “If you hadn’t just given up maybe I wouldn’t have to drink to keep the call of the so-called gods out?”

“I have accepted my inability to escape fate. You are a fool and a drunk who keeps fruitlessly trying to kill his own mother,” said Susan.

“I truly do wish you guys luck on this little family squabble,” said Sophie. “But unless you’re going to let us go, I think my sister and I have a few pounds on you with Victor being a little too hammered at the moment.”

Susan stunned us with a laugh loud as a trumpet while the hoof beats began again in the distance. “I’d kill you before you took a step. But I prefer not to get my hands dirty when I can avoid it.” Susan pointed us toward the now open front door and the sight of Bill and his two coworkers coming up the lawn in Wild Hunter dress, longswords drawn.

Sophie and I decided to take our chances on being faster than the burly guys and bolted out of the door to the side of the yard. As we sprinted down the street as hard as we could, we could hear the hoof beats getting faster and faster. Sophie screamed and fell to the ground as a hurricane force wind blasted over her and just missed me. For a split second I could see the figures of what I assumed to be the Kimuras in the wind at the reigns. Bill caught up with Sophie, who just barely dodged his inexperienced lumberjack sword swing and tased him in the gut.

I ran in a serpentine pattern, attempting to avoid the other two Wild Hunters as long as possible while hearing the horses bearing closer behind us. One of them just barely grazed my thigh as I felt myself lifted off the ground at incredible speed. As I was being hurled to the ground a yard away, I could see that there were now two other figures on the phantom horses. They seemed to be rapidly jockeying for position with the Kimuras.

Just as Bill was about to finish Sophie off, the horses bore down on him like a train. All four of us who remained watched stunned as his suddenly bleeding body was launched at least 200 hundred yards in the air, landing with a sickening thud on the roof of a nearby house. The other two drones were finished off in similar fashion just as quickly and the horsemen took off south of us. As the hoof beats died down, I suddenly realized that my cell phone had begun working.

Perhaps I should thank Odin or Thor that Sophie and I got out of there with only minor cuts. We would later find out that the Knudsens had died earlier that day within minutes of one another in two separate nursing homes.

Now that the anomalies have started to die down a bit, the demolition of Placidity Row is proceeding as scheduled. Sources are divided on whether city government plans to declare the area a wilderness preserve (for animals that still refuse to go near it, of course) or whether it is now hearing bids for shopping malls and condos. I wish the poor suckers luck. Something tells me the tradition of the Wild Hunt is going to live on.

Credit To – Cosmo Fish

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16 thoughts on “Placidity Row”

  1. There is a time and a place for an unreliable narrator, but the horror genre generally isn’t it. I was immediately irritated by grammatical errors, and my inner editor was begging to mark this up with red ink. Tense, tense, tense! You move from “have” to “has” in almost every sentence and it’s increasingly annoying as the story goes on. It reads as if you’re speaking aloud, and it isn’t a good thing.

    That being said, all of the initial “incidents” have zero correlation with each other. There isn’t a theme or a common factor between all of them – just a bunch of random unfortunate events in a particular area of town. Sure, bananas turn brown and people die suddenly and electronics stop working; I guess that could mean that everything in a Bermunda-Triangle-esque area is plagued with death, but then you move on to apparition sightings. And unreliable ones at that! Ugh.

    Something I learned a long time ago was that there is rarely a need for parentheses and it still rings true today. They’re easily avoided if you reword the sentence a little bit, so maybe I sound a little pompous at this point but I’m really just trying to say I was too caught up in how poorly written it is to really be freaked out at all.

    You explicitly state at the beginning that this place is not a sketchy part of town, but proceed to describe precisely that. I’m sorry, but what? First dead people aged 70 years, then tiny cuts all over their bodies, then creepy pagan cult sacrifices on a shrine, and apparently some guy casting spells on people? Oh, and zombies. Forgot about the zombies. And then of course, what happened to the horsemen? But at the end of the day, the protagonist and their friend live happily ever after because, well, it’s not their problem.

    This is a laughably terrible pasta. I’m so done being freaked out by this website.

    3/10 for originality .. sort of.

  2. Being familiar with the wild hunt, this story’s ending made no sense to me.
    Please make it less of a clusterf*** and more of a structured story.
    I’m also of the opinion that the stuff the sister’s went through would not make them brush off corpses that aged 70 years that easily. Seeing a corpse for real in front of you can shock you pretty badly, unless you’re used to it.

  3. Shape Shafter:
    A few things struck me as odd. An open can of soda went flat after an hour?That’s pretty normal.A housewife murders her two year old cousin?That’s a huge age discrepancy for cousins. Animal control specializes in arresting and containing possibly dangerous animals, not doing autopsies on dead geese. In America, we spell it “f-e-e-t”. That was an awfully detailed description of the horsemen who “passed in such a blur that it is hard for for them (to) believe that they even saw anything at all”. Sophie and the protagonist act like Fred and Daphne from Scooby doo when they discover the entire other team dead in the street and aged 70 years. Too bad Victor and his mom just HAPPENED to move into a neighborhood with a couple of Nordic shamans! Lol. The inexperienced swordsman misses, while Sophie the melee fighter extraordinaire tases him in the gut? When you say you ran in a serpentine pattern, I can’t help but think of the scene from Land of the Lost where Will Ferrell is doing the same thing. The end is so jumbled I dont really know what happens, and unfortunately, I dont really care. Not a terrible idea and I am a huge fan of the wild hunt, but theres just too much nonsense to really get into this story. 5/10. You can do better. Keep reading and writing

  4. I agree completely with Ms. Katherine. The beginning really pulled me in and I enjoyed it very much. I don’t need to restate what the others have said about the second half. I don’t have anything to add except that you are very talented and I hope you keep writing.

  5. What… the…fuck. Got me all interested just to go ape-shit on me halfway through. Shape Shafter said it right. What happened? Go back to right before they entered the room with the fucked up norse sacrificing table and start from there. Then you’ll have a good pasta. And get off that acid bro. That shit got you thinking glorified ponies and shit.

  6. A few things struck me as odd. An open can of soda went flat after an hour? That’s pretty normal. A housewife murders her two year old cousin? That’s a huge age discrepancy for cousins. Animal control specializes in arresting and containing possibly dangerous animals, not doing autopsies on dead geese. In America, we spell it “f-e-e-t”. That was an awfully detailed description of the horsemen who “passed in such a blur that it is hard for for them (to) believe that they even saw anything at all”. Sophie and the protagonist act like Fred and Daphne from Scooby doo when they discover the entire other team dead in the street and aged 70 years. Too bad Victor and his mom just HAPPENED to move into a neighborhood with a couple of Nordic shamans! Lol. The inexperienced swordsman misses, while Sophie the melee fighter extraordinaire tases him in the gut? When you say you ran in a serpentine pattern, I can’t help but think of the scene from Land of the Lost where Will Ferrell is doing the same thing. The end is so jumbled I dont really know what happens, and unfortunately, I dont really care. Not a terrible idea and I am a huge fan of the wild hunt, but theres just too much nonsense to really get into this story. 5/10. You can do better. Keep reading and writing

    1. The Wild Hunt is a concept from Norse Mythology (though I tweaked it slightly). I guess I shouldn’t have automatically assumed people would be familiar with it, though.

      Thank you for your advice.

      1. I am familiar with the wild hunt and I love it because I’ve read quite a few interpretations of it (including yours) and its very appealing because it has a mythological base but is very open to an authors own ideas and inclinations. I do believe most people (especially americans) arw not very familiar with the wild hunt. Again your story has great potential it just needa alot of the screws tightened in the actions and attitudes of the characters and some of the events that seem kinda silly when you think about them.

  7. I was really getting into this story. I think The opening paragraphs set up an interesting setting that I want to learn about. The first few odd happenings are tantalizing and really worked to draw me in to the scene you were creating. Unfortunately, the end kind of became a bit of a mess. There is a lot happening, and in some ways I felt I was reading fan fiction from a universe I am unfamiliar with. Maybe I am supposed to simply have knowledge of the Wild Hunt, but I don’t and there was very limited explanation given. The dialigue is also stilted, and the remark about taking on the two Wild Hunters in a fight almost made me laugh out loud. It’s a bit absurd, but not in a good way. I think the author has a very rich world in mind, but was trying to keep it short and wrap up the story which made all that rich mythology seem like an afterthought. I loved the writing in the intro, and found the story enjoyable for the most part, but the last half did not seem to gel wih the first half, which left me feeling a bit blindsided. The narrator also feels a bit flat from the point of finding the other team’s bodies and on, and at times feels almost omniscient in her knowledge of the goings on. She is not particularly shocked to find the others dead, and casually confronts an apparent murderer rather nonchalantly soon after, while knowing his and the woman’s identity on sight. It robs the story of its drama and fear if nothing worries the narrator. There were some really brilliant places as well, especially the background for the town, and I think that showcases your skill in creating believable scenes. You obviously have a lot of talent for storytelling, and I hope that this can be reworked to more effectively tell what is an intriguing story. Happy writing!

    PS: I apologize for any typos. I’m commenting from mobile for the first time!

  8. So this was good. Up until the soul-sucking Asians. And then it got weird. And not an enjoyable sort of weird. More like a “I don’t understand how you possibly even thought this up” weird. You clearly have an awesome imagination so kudos on that. I think you may want to work on story development; the last half felt rushed and a little out of left field.

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