I'm afraid I can't be very specific at all with this, as I'm describing a memory of someone else's description of a short story that they had themselves read, but I'm absolutely convinced this is an existing story. Here is what I remember:

  • I believe there is a group of astronauts that arrive on the Moon, Venus, Mars, or some other alien world.
  • The world is either uninhabited or inhabited by hospitable aliens that welcome the astronauts into their society; I'm convinced it's one of these two
  • Soon after some short exploration, one of the astronauts "wakes up" to find himself back on the ship (I think) and a formless being, like a cloud of fog (or something more overtly malicious, but I'm pretty sure it's non-corporeal) standing over him
  • The story either ends there, or with him going (back?) to sleep

Regardless of the other details, and I apologize I can't be more specific with them, the overarching implication was that this astronaut's experiences have been somehow manipulated by an alien being he has encountered on this strange world. It's possible he looked over to see his fellow travelers in the same position as he, with aliens poised over them as well.

Do these vague details bring anything to anyone's mind? I'm determined to find the original story (which I'm sure exists) or at the very least something like it.

  • Welcome to the site! You've provided a lot of detail, I'm sure it won't be long before you have an answer.
    – user32390
    May 10, 2016 at 6:55
  • Any chance you could find out how long ago the other person read the story?
    – user14111
    May 10, 2016 at 6:55
  • It's unlikely to be recent; my guess would be some time in the 80s? I could be wrong, but I don't think it's any more recent than that.
    – Ebert
    May 10, 2016 at 21:11
  • Some details, but not all, match Garrard's encounter with the clinesterton beademungen in James Blish's "Common Time": en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Time .
    – LSerni
    Mar 2, 2017 at 21:21

2 Answers 2


Sounds like Ray Bradbury's "Mars is Heaven" (aka "The Third Expedition"), specifically as adapted in EC Comics' Weird Science #18. The original story as published in Planet Stories, Fall 1948 is available at the Internet Archive.

Plot summary posted at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Is_Heaven!

It is the 1960s and the first spaceship from Earth is landing on Mars. The crew are shocked to discover a Rockwellian small town, eerily similar to those they left on Earth. The strangely familiar people in the town believe it is 1926. Crew members soon discover old friends and deceased relatives in the town. Those who had been ordered to stay behind and guard the rocket abandon their posts in order to join the reunions and festivities.

Members of the crew split up to spend the night in the homes of their lost comrades and relatives. The ship's captain, John Black, remains skeptical, and realizes in the middle of the night that the entire situation may have been contrived by telepathic aliens to lower the Earthmen's guards. Before he can warn the others or reestablish a guard on the spaceship, he is proved right as he and the entire staff of the ship are killed by those whom they think are their family members.

  • Heyo, thanks for the answer. Instead of merely providing a link, can you please make sure that you include the relevant information here? How to Answer and the tour might make for some useful reading as well. Thanks!
    – Mithical
    Aug 1, 2017 at 21:28

What you describe sounds like the short story "Mistake", by Larry Niven.

"While Commander Elroy Barnes is tripping on a drug, a mind-reading Martian visits and demands military secrets. Barnes refuses. Alien uses force and Barnes demands a little blue pill. The alien relents because Barnes's mind is clouded by the drug. When Barnes's mind clears, so does the alien."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.