Paycheck and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Galaxy Jun 1953

A crew of explorers from Earth looking for a planet to colonize seem to have found a so-called Garden of Eden. That is until Major Lawrence Hall’s microscope tries to strangle him. Soon after corresponding reports pour in of other crew members being assaulted by inanimate objects in the same way.

They eventually figure out Planet Blue is home to a hostile native life form that can perfectly mimic non-biological items. The only chance of escape without inadvertently bringing this murderous bugger along is to board a rescue ship sans all their clothing. Too bad in the hubbub of getting naked no one considers the life form can mimic the rescue ship too.

In 1956 this story was adapted for NBC’s X Minus One radio series.

Cast of characters

  • Major Lawrence Hall 
  • Lieutenant Friendly 
  • Commander Stella Morrison
  • Captain Taylor – attacked by a rug
  • Lieutenant Dodds – attacked by his gloves
  • Corporal Tenner – attacked by a safety mat
  • Captain Unger – swallowed up by his car
  • Gail Thomas – presumably killed by her uniform
  • Corporal Hendricks – swimming with Gail Thomas when she disappears
  • Captain Daniel Davis – captain of the nearest Terran cruiser