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Two explorers land on a planet where the atmosphere makes their childhood terrors into reality. They try to leave the planet, but since their vessel contains the atmosphere from the planet, their hallucinations persist.

The only way to defeat the hallucinations was to use the same methods that worked when they were kids.

I read this before 1990, in a short story magazine.

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    Argh, this sounds very familiar. They had to cover their heads with blankets, right? – Clara Diaz Sanchez Sep 3 at 21:13
  • Yes, that's right. – yulerule Sep 3 at 21:25
  • I closed per the dupe suggestion; a deleted answer, by the querent of the earlier question, confirms they are the same story. I've raised a flag for the answer to be turned into a comment. – Jenayah Sep 3 at 22:17
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This is Ghost Five, by Robert Sheckley. The gas was dubbed "Longstead 42" and made real one's childish terrors.

A little known trivia is that this story was one of the two (both by Sheckley) used as "inspirations" by the Italian cartoonist Bonvi to draw an anthology of humour comic stories called "Storie dello Spazio Profondo" (Tales from Deep Space). Most of the screenplay was written by the Italian singer Francesco Guccini, but he wasn't available for two of the stories, so Bonvi helped himself from two of his favourites.

This is the last scene from "Bonifica Spaziale" ("Space Decontamination"), the story of the question (the planet is called Specter Three instead of Ghost Five), with its conclusion: "Nothing works like a good blanket over your head to defend yourself!".

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  • That's it exactly! Thanks! – yulerule Sep 3 at 21:44

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