“The Color Out Of Space” Lovecraft Short Story Review

This is one of the creepier tales from H. P. Lovecraft. The story isn’t disturbing because of the activity of spooky cults, there is no giant Cthulhu monster popping out of the ocean or anything like that. This tale explores cosmic horror in way that’s a lot closer to home.

The narrator is an unnamed surveyor who is trying to describe his efforts to figure out the mystery of a frightening place in the hills west of Arkham called the “blasted heath”. The townsfolk refuse to talk and the protagonist seeks out an old nutter named Ammi Pierce. The old man tells the narrator about his experiences with a farmer named Nahum Gardner and his family who once lived on the property and why the locals fear the place.

Pierce relates how 50 years ago in June 1882 a strange meteorite crashed onto Nahums land. Local scientists took a sample from the meteorite and found it to have the most peculiar reactions to their tests. The sample disappeared after being stored in a glass beaker. When the scientists tried to take a second sample they found a globule within the meteorite that emitted an odd, unknown color. One of the scientists hit the globule with a hammer which caused it to disintegrate. That night the meteorite disappeared after being struck by lightning bolts.

During the next harvest Nahums crops grew extremely large and abundant. Unfortunetly Nahum discovered that the crops were inedible. Apparently the meteorite had poisoned the soil. Over the next year the abnormality spread to other plants and animals in the area, causing a variety of strange mutations. The plant life on the farm became brittle and grey.

Mrs. Gardner went completely nuts and Nahum decided to keep her locked up in the attic. The Gardner family became more and more isolated from the neighbors and Pierce became their only contact with the outside world. Pierce told Nahum that the well water had gone bad and suggested they dig a new well. Nahum refused, much to Pierces confusion. One of Nahums sons, a boy named Thaddeus, also went nuts and Nahum locked him in a different part of the attic. The livestock mutated horribly and died off. Thaddeus died in the attic and another son named Merwin vanished.

Weeks passed with no word from the Gardner family. Out of concern Pierce went to visit Nahum. Upon arrival Pierce quickly realized that Nahum had lost his mind. When Pierce asked Nahum about his only surviving son Nahum told Pierce that the boy lived in the well. Pierce went to investigate the attic and found a horribly mutated Mrs. Gardner. He killed her to put her out of her misery. Nahum had changed into a terrifying monstrous form by this point. Nahum temporarily regained his sanity and told Pierce that the color from the meteorite was responsible for everything, that somehow it had been absorbing the lifeforce from the surrounding area. Soon after Nahum died.

Pierce left to find help and returned to the farm with 6 men. They discovered the rotting skeletons of 2 of Narhums sons at the bottom of the well along with the bones of several other creatures. The alien color began to pour out from the well. The trees shuddered and the organic material on the farm began to glow with the color. The men ran from the house as the color flew into the sky and disappeared. Pierce saw some small part of the color try to return to the well, only to fail. The next day some of the group returned to the farm. All they could find were many acres of grey dust and Pierces dead horse. Understandably upon hearing stories of what had happened a lot of locals moved away.

It is a strange idea admittedly, that an alien force could simply be a color but given that there’s so much that we still don’t understand about the nature of multiple dimensions and the operations of time and space perhaps it is possible. After reading the story I spent a great deal of time trying to imagine what this color could look like. It’s simply inconceivable to think of a color that doesn’t even exist upon this world and that in and of itself is kind of frightening. The whole idea of cosmic horror is that it makes us realize just how little we know about the universe we live in and how truly insignificant we are as a species in the grand scheme of things. A few years ago a movie adaptation based on this story came out, it’s an excellent film and if you enjoy reading this story I would highly recommend watching that as well as a supplementary piece.- Zwahk (Image from Unsplash.com)

Published by Zwahk Muchoney

I'm an eclectic author who hails from the city of Seattle.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: