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Colour Contagion · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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The Beast of Luscioucr
Nestled in the valleys of mountains north, the village of Luscioucr slumbers. Clouds form in the mountaintops, spilling off in rolling falls and drowning the village beneath in a deep, deep lake which sunlight cannot penetrate. The grasses here are a little less green, the hearth fires burn not quite as bright, skin turns pale in mimicry of illness, and everything is marred by a tinge of gray.

Yet life in Luscioucr betrays the dour palette of its colors. It is a small village, but it’s just as lively as the larger towns at lower altitudes. People tend to their gardens, children play amongst the streams and wildflowers, and precious stones make their way out of its solitary mine for daily trade in the villages down the mountains. Beyond these gems, a couple of times a year, traders from Luscioucr sell unique black and white flowers: daisies, roses, and marigolds. They always return with food, clothing, wood, and other wares.

Keen eyes will notice how off-season these sellers come. Curious minds how these grow these flowers are dismissed with pleasantries. Those who pry too hard are kicked from Luscioucr before they even visit. “Trade secrets,” is their excuse. “Insulted,” is how they justify themselves. The truth, however, is the stuff of lore.

Luscioucr is a village out of the way from the rest of the world. While visitors are not unwelcome, a small shack guards the single pathway into the village. Just as arbitrary as the days traders don’t come down from Luscioucr, he prevents anyone who tries from going up. Ask him why, and you’ll get the same old stories. But with a bit of drink, he may tell you something new.

This is the story of William, who found his way in Luscioucr on one of those infrequent days when the fog drains out of the mountain valley. On these rare days, the sun shines down on Luscioucr in all its radiant glory. The grasses are green, the flowers are vivid, the buildings remain gray, and the village is deathly silent. The windows are black, the hearths are cold, and nary a soul wanders outdoors. On these fogless days, Luscioucr becomes picturesque, suspended in its canvas.

He brought wares with him to trade for some of those valuable black roses the village sometimes sells, and he desperately wanted to see how they were grown. But all the roses here were typical reds. The daisies were yellow, the marigolds orange. None of the black and white varieties could be found in their gardens or in the wild fields.

William repeatedly made noise in the seemingly abandoned village, looking for life. Curiosity slowly gave way to fright when nothing answered back. Eventually, though he found something. But what he saw was no villager.

It was a beast as tall of a man, with skin like a snake’s and claws like a hawk’s. Standing on four legs, it vaguely resembled a dog, but the tail was far too thick and long, and the head was something more demonic. Four eyes, four horns, and a mouth full of jagged teeth. A rainbow of colors gave it some allure, a level of attraction that clashed with its sinister form. But the head and neck were an obsidian black.

When William saw it, the beast stood over a garden patch, its mouth agape, draining the color from a bed of daisies in a disgusting sort of reverse-vomiting. Yellow blushes were slowly pushing away the black patches of the creature’s skin. But the beast also saw him, its maw snapped shut, and its four eyes narrowed on his position. He let out another cry, this one much more in terror, and the beast lunged at him.

The following morning, the fog returned to Luscioucr. William was found in the town square, mauled, eviscerated, and ravaged. His remains were all still there, the court splattered with blood. But the red of his meat had been drained of its color.

The villagers buried him in an unmarked grave. They know his name because folks came looking for him. They now have a Watchman to hold people back on the days the fog rolls out, the villagers hunker down, and the beast begins to prowl for all the colors of the world.
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#1 ·
Your Story's Theme Song: Ryan Vail – Above The White Wash

Having reread this a couple of times, I came away from it liking it more than I don't, and that's mostly because the tone throughout the story was consistently despondent. The town of Luscioucr feels like it's a few steps shy from becoming a Gothic hamlet, and honestly, that atmosphere alone drew me in for the first few paragraphs, except perhaps save for this glaring sentence.

Curious minds how these grow these flowers are dismissed with pleasantries.

Otherwise, I was hooked, up to when it starts telling William's story.

I'm not entirely sure if shifting the focus onto our one-off character was the best option. I feel it chipped away at the elusiveness of the beast, which in turn dissipates the mysterious atmosphere you had going for you, dear writer. I also find myself questioning the importance of using William to tell the story of the beast when you could've just focused on the beast itself. Also, the way William's story was told seems like the villagers knew exactly what William was up to and everything he was feeling in those last moments when I highly doubt that's the case.

I also don't feel like you really need to describe the beast exactly as portrayed in the artwork you selected and take a few liberties here and there. Or maybe perhaps expand upon what the artist has given you. Were its horns made of marble or ivory? What's the texture of its fur / skin? What's the color of its eyes? I just felt like you could've painted the beast to be more nightmarish than just 'it sucks color and kills people'.

Also, the phrase 'reverse-vomiting'. It doesn't exactly blend in well with everything else you've written and tore me out of my immersion the first time I went through this.

All in all, I quite enjoyed reading this, though I think it does need a bit of recalibration. Thanks for writing!
#2 ·
· · >>Monokeras
Alternate Title: Colors for the Color God

This story gets some points right off the bat for having good world-building in its first few paragraphs, and I was curious to see what the twist with this town was inevitably going to be. You don't have a town with this kind of supernatural aura about it and not expect something creepy to be lurking around the corner.

The descriptions of Luscioucr are honestly some of the best prose I've encountered so far in this round; it kind of verges on poetry, though it leans closer to being a very well-written Golden Age high fantasy story. Or maybe something Ursula K. Le Guin would've written in her prime.

It certainly invited a comparison to "Those Who Walk Away from Omelas," one of Le Guin's finest short stories. Hell, for the first few paragraphs I'd say the comparison is well-deserved.

But then the author, in my opinion anyway, misfires by deciding to focus the bulk of the story on a character we know nothing about and whom we're inclined to not care for much.

Mind you, the story doesn't go totally to shit from there on, but there's definitely this feeling that something is out of place. Maybe the author felt it necessary to write about a person instead of just a place, even though as Le Guin (and also Italo Calvino) have shown us, you don't need people in your story to make it compelling; you just need a world that is compelling in itself, which isn't exactly easy to do, but it can work wonders and sometimes even be the best option.

Protagonists in minifics are always kind of flat because of the format, but William suffers this more than most because we don't even meet him until like a third into the story, so when he gets killed by the beast I didn't feel much of anything.

Aside from that there are a few awkward phrasings (as tall of a man?) that sneaked into an otherwise very finely put together entry, in terms of the prose. Even when the stuff with William was going on the author kept this borderline poetic vibe, which I liked, even though it didn't make for compelling horror material.

This is also one of those entries that relies a little too heavily on the art piece that inspired it, but at least I can say it stuck close to the prompt (unlike a lot of other entries in any given round). It's fine, honestly.

I probably won't put this at the top of my slate, but definitely in the upper half. I wish I could guarantee you a safe passage to finals, author, but I think it'll get there. You can also kick my ass if it doesn't.
#3 ·
Overall, that’s not bad, and I agree with what >>No_Raisin says here about the initial description of the village, which is pretty nice.

The story, however, is too on the nose for me. I mean, you took that picture and bolstered your story on it in such an obvious way that when I arrived half-way through it, I had the picture right in front of me and couldn't get rid of it.

Cassius asks if this is bad. I mean, it’s not bad per se. Somehow it bugged me. Maybe because this is too straight an interpretation, so straight that I find it devoid of originality? I was expecting more subtlety, maybe. I’m not sure.

Sorry, author.

(Yeah #100, last message of the first page!)
#4 ·
Like our other reviewers, I thought the scene-setting and tone-setting in the first several paragraphs was really strong. But at the same time, I can't help but think that they hamstrung the rest of the story.

You spent 300 words before any event actually happens. And then, it all happens to some guy that never gets any development at all. It feels very strange that the story seems to be told from William's perspective, but he barely exists the span of 300 words before being quickly killed off-screen.

I can't help but to think that this piece would have been much stronger if it had ditched the semblance of any story/characters at all. Just give us more of the prose from the first 1/3, and gradually reveal this village's struggle against the monster. As it is right now, jumping into the shoes of someone who amounts to be the film equivalent of an extra just feels cheap to me.
#5 ·
Other reviewers have already praised this story for its many virtues: strong descriptions, a good hook, and an intriguing setting. But where it comes out of the gate with a superb opening, it really loses steam around the middle.

We get almost halfway through the story before anything happens, and when it does happen, it happens to someone who doesn't live to tell the tale. Since the middle of the story is told from William's perspective, but he doesn't live to repeat anything, the perspective here becomes confused.