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A story by HP Lovecraft inspired by Arthur Machen's "The Novel of the White Powder" (from the novel The Three Imposters). The story is first told from the perspective of a property investigator visiting the town of Arkham who is citing for a new reservoir to be built. Eventually he starts asking about the mysterious "blasted heath" which the people had been trying to avoid talking about for the entire time. Eventually he finds Ammi, an old man living near the heath, who is willing to explain what happened there and why absolutely nothing can live on that plot of land.
The story then shifts perspective to Ammi who tells about how they a meteor had crashed to earth one night and the horrific things that arose because of that.
The story is one of several of Lovecraft's that received an audio drama adaptation from the Atlanta Radio Theater Company.
And yes, it was an inspiration for Maniac Mansion.
Can be read here.
Provides Examples Of
- Asshole Victim: Very much averted. The Gardners are nothing but upstanding normal people, making their horrible fate that much worse.
- Played somewhat straight in the Atlanta Radio Theater Company's audio drama version, where Nahum is a rather cantankerous, unpleasant man whose first response to most problems is to reach for his shotgun.
- Body Horror: The fate of the Colour's victims.
- Driven to Suicide: The Gardner children both kill themselves rather than suffer the fate that befell their mother.
- One of them anyway; the other one's bones were found in the well where the Colour dwells, so he may have become a victim to it, as well.
- Eldritch Abomination: The titular Colour is a particularly creepy example because the story deliberately leaves vague the nature of what it is, or if it is even aware of what it was doing.
- Eldritch Location: The Blasted Heath is a slowly expanding area that is completely and totally dead, no grass, no animals, not even germs or mold live there - just ash.
- Epileptic Trees: Literally: the trees were described as swaying epileptically.
And yet amid that tense, godless calm the high bare boughs of all the trees in the yard were moving. They were twitching morbidly and spasmodically, clawing in convulsive and epileptic madness.
- Fisher Kingdom: A meteorite containing a substance of a color and an element unknown to man has landed in the well of a farmhouse. The soil around the well begins to change and a malaise radiates outward, in which all animal, plant, and human life begins to deform, takes on the color of the object from the meteorite, and eventually turns gray and crumbles. The illness is both physical and mental, and is not a simple case of poisoning, as the meteorite object is in some way sentient.
- Lovecraft Country: The story was written by the Trope Namer.
- Madwoman in the Attic: Nahum's wife suffers this fate when she goes mad.
- As does one of his sons.
- Promoted to Love Interest: A romantic subplot is introduced in the radio version between Ammi Pearce and Mrs. Gardner. According to this version they were briefly involved before she got married and she later tries to seduce him again so he'll take her away from Nahum Gardner's irradiated lands before she succumbs to the effects of The Colour.
- Starfish Aliens: The Colour. This was Invoked Trope by Lovecraft, who didn't like how human-like aliens were in other works of his time.
- Vampiric Draining: The Colour seems to drain Life Energy from its victims until they're nothing but grey ash.
- You Cannot Grasp the True Form: In a variation of this trope, the titular "colour" is unlike any color in the normal spectrum, which under conventional (but obviously non-applicable here) logic would suggest it simply being invisible.