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I am trying to remember a story I heard a long time ago. The setting was that there is a huge ship floating around with some sort of creatures. And this ship sails time and stays a few moments ahead of our present moment. These creatures literally with their tools and materials build the entire universe as it should look like a few moments later. And they continue to do that constantly as they move down the timeline with us following right behind them by a few moments.

The story also explained that this is why sometimes completely inexplicable things happen such as when you lose your keys and they turn up somewhere completely different. It's because some builder didn't pay attention to detail.

marked as duplicate by Otis, Jason Baker, Politank-Z, Ward, Bamboo Oct 9 '16 at 19:43

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  • It was about 11 years ago and I am not sure but it may have been a short story. – Fixed Point Dec 5 '13 at 6:37
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    Sounds like the revived Twilight Zone episode A Matter Of Minutes. Except for the huge ship. Or, Stephen King's novella The Langoliers. Which also doesn't have the huge ship, but it does have an aeroplane. – Mr Lister Dec 5 '13 at 12:09
  • Langoliers was about creatures that destroyed the universe as it went into the past – user13267 Dec 6 '13 at 12:16
  • @user13267 Same concept. Where there are creatures that create the universe just before we enter it, it stands to reason that there are also creates who dispose of it afterwards! – Mr Lister Dec 11 '13 at 9:50
  • I meant there is no mention of creatures that create the universe in The Langoliers (at least not in the tv version; since they are not mentioned at all I assume they are not in the book either) – user13267 Dec 11 '13 at 10:03
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It's not a perfect match, but your description is reminiscent of Theodore Sturgeon's short story "Yesterday Was Monday", first published in Unknown Fantasy Fiction, June 1941, available at the Internet Archive. In Sturgeon's yarn, we mortals are actors in a cosmic play. Sturgeon's protagonist somehow gets to Wednesday a day early and sees the stagehands preparing the set:

Swarms of little men who might have been twins of the one he had spoken to were crowding around the cars, the sidewalks, the stores and buildings. All were working like mad with every tool unimaginable. Some were touching up the finish of the cars with fine wire brushes, laying on networks of microscopic cracks and scratches. Some, with ball peens and mallets, were denting fenders skillfully, bending bumpers in an artful crash pattern, spider-webbing safety-glass windshields. Others were aging top dressing with high-pressure, needlepoint sandblasters. Still others were pumping dust into upholstery, sandpapering the dashboard finish around light switches, throttles, chokes, to give a finger-worn appearance. Harry stood aside as a half dozen of the workers scampered down the street bearing a fender which they riveted to a 1930 coupé. It was freshly bloodstained.

Harry meets "Iridel, supervisor of the district of Futura", who explains:

Iridel threw up his long hands. "My, you actors are stupid. Now listen carefully. This is Act Wednesday, Scene 6:22. That means that everything you see around you here is being readied for 6:22 a. m. on Wednesday. Wednesday isn't a time, it's a place. The actors are moving along toward it now. I see you still don't get the idea. Let's see . . . ah. Look at that clock. What does it say?

Harry Wright looked at the big electric clock on the wall over the compressor. It was corrected hourly and highly accurate, and it said 6:22. Harry looked at it amazed. "Six tw— but my gosh, man, that's what time I left the house. I walked here, an' I been here ten minutes already!"

Iridel shook his head. "You've been here no time at all, because there is no time until the actors make their entrances."

Same general idea as the story you described. However, I don't see anything about a huge ship sailing the timeline, or people losing their keys on account of continuity errors.

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