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A Matter of Minutes is the third segment of the 15th episode from the first season (1985–86) of the television series The New Twilight Zone.

Plot

A young married couple, the Michael and June Wright, wake up one day to the sounds of construction. When they get a good look at the world around them, they find everything has stopped. A crew of blue-clad construction workers are busy removing their furniture and replacing it with new. The Wrights run outside to find things being rebuilt that have already existed. The workers set up a crash and distribute litter in the streets. The Wrights start to go in the direction of the voice barking out orders to the workers until the voice tells them to chase the Wrights.

Confused and frightened, the couple run into a back alley and enter a void of white space. They discover a man in yellow, who helps them out of the void and explains to them he is the supervisor of the maintenance of time. They have somehow slipped into a loophole of time. While they should be in an earlier time, 9:33, for some reason they have hopped over into 11:37. Showing them exactly how time is maintained, he reveals to them a new understanding of how the universe works: every minute in history is essentially a separate world, which must be built, maintained, and torn down once the world finishes with it. The supervisor informs them that they cannot return for two reasons: one, they cannot reveal to anyone the true nature of time and two, the supervisor isn't even certain they could return if they wanted to. The Wrights flee from the foreman and his crew and try to find a way to slip back to their own time. They hide inside a theatre ticket booth waiting until their time, 11:37, rolls around and catches up with them. The foreman finds them but too late. A sudden loud noise and whoosh of wind and the Wrights suddenly come into their world again. Back in their own time, they find a "blue" wrench sitting on a public telephone, a souvenir as proof of their experience.

Closing narration

“Time, a handy fiction to explain why everything doesn't happen all at once. Or maybe we're the fiction, moving minute by minute...through the Twilight Zone. ”

Trivia

  • This episode is based on the short story "Yesterday Was Monday," by Theodore Sturgeon first published in June 1941. It is also similar in concept to the Stephen King novella The Langoliers.

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