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Beachworld

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"Beachworld" is a short story written by Stephen King. It was original published in the Fall 1984 issue of Weird Tales, and later included in King's own 1985 collection Skeleton Crew.

Summary

At an unspecified time in the distant future (the last of the Beach Boys is mentioned as having died eight thousand years ago) a Federation spacecraft experiences a catastrophic crash landing on an uncharted planet made up entirely of sand. Only crew members Rand and Shapiro survive. The men stare out over the sand dunes and remark on how the planet is similar to a beach. Rand, who is slowly becoming insane, refuses to move from the dune he is sitting on or to drink water.

When help arrives in the form of another spacecraft, Shapiro tries to take Rand onboard with him. However, Rand resists leaving the planet, and the sand reveals itself to be sentient. It prevents Rand's rescue by both wrecking the android sent from the ship and sending a hand of sand up to stop a tranquilizer dart. The rescue ship escapes just in time, with Shapiro narrowly avoiding a giant hand of sand. Rand, left alone, stares up at the ship as it disappears, and then begins to pile handfuls of sand into his mouth.

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