Doug shut off the tractor and sat in the shadow of the plane directly above him. Interposed between him and the noonday sun, it hung there like a prop on a string, its propellers not moving. Roy, Doug’s father, wiping his face with the hem of his shirt as he appeared from amongst the wheat stalks, saw the tractor had stopped moving and looked up to see what Doug was staring at.

“That looks like an old World War II bomber,” Roy said, leaning back so he could look up without putting too much strain on his neck. ‘I didn’t know they could hover like that.”

“They can’t,” replied Doug. “And, it’s kinda hard to tell with the sun directly above it, but it looks like the propellers ain’t turning.”

Roy leaned back farther, putting one hand on the tractor to steady himself.

“That isn’t possible,” he said. “What’s holding her up there?”

Suddenly, they were both staring directly into the sun. They quickly looked away, and then, trying to shield their eyes with their hands, directed their gaze back upward. The plane was gone. They both looked out across the cloudless sky stretching over the fields. It was a solid blue, unmarred by any man-made contrivance.

“I’d say I had been working too hard if you hadn’t seen it, too,” said the older man, wiping off his glasses on his sleeve before putting them back on for another look. “There isn’t a sign of it anywhere.”

Doug shrugged and reached for the ignition on the tractor, but his father stopped him, saying it was time to take a break.

The two men decided to go up to the house for lunch. On the way, as they were walking up the drive, Doug saw something glinting from the corner of his eye and turned to see a man in a silver jumpsuit out on the road. He watched as the man turned his head from side to side, his brow furrowed in confusion. The man looked down and tapped on a box strapped to his wrist and then looked around again, frowning. Doug glanced at his father, who, oblivious to the man, had continued his trek up toward the house. When he turned back, the road was empty. Like the plane, the man had vanished.

“What’s keeping you?” Doug’s father asked, turning to see his son staring off at the road.

“Nothing,” Doug responded. “Nothing at all.”

Once inside, Roy headed for the kitchen while Doug made his way to the bathroom. As he passed through the parlor, he noticed something on the sofa that looked like a box covered in black and white checks. Puzzled, he walked over and tried to lift it, but it wouldn’t budge. He tried again. It stretched upward a few inches, but the base remained embedded in the sofa. What the hell was it? It felt solid under its skin of checkered cloth. Grasping it with both hands, he tugged, trying to move it forward so it would slide off the cushion. There was a sound like the ripping of fabric, and he fell back onto the floor. A chair with black and white checkered fabric protruded from the center of the sofa! He had been pulling on the armrest!

Jumping to his feet, he ran his finger along the seam where it merged with the sofa. It was as though the two seats had been mashed together. He was about to call to his father when he heard a crash and rushed into the kitchen to find Roy standing over a shattered plate, the cheese from his sandwich draped over his shoe. Doug stepped over the potato chips scattered over the floor to lay a hand on his father’s shoulder.

“You alright, Dad?” he asked, but his father didn’t answer. He stood there trembling, staring off toward the pantry. Doug followed his gaze and saw a woman in a pink coat, her black hair pulled back in a ponytail that hung down over the fur collar. Although she was facing away from them, Doug recognized her immediately.

“Momma?” he gasped. It couldn’t be. His mother had been dead for six years, but here she was, frozen in place in the kitchen, her hand reaching out for something on the top shelf that was no longer there. Doug ran over to her and put his hand on her arm, but she didn’t move.

“Why are we seeing this?” Roy whispered. “Why are we seeing these images?”

“I don’t think they’re just images,” Doug responded, thinking of the checkered chair. “I think they’re really here, but somehow out of sync.”

“What do you mean out of sync?” his father asked, unable to take his eyes off the phantom in the pantry.

“I think they’re moving at a different speed than we are. Somehow time got all jumbled up. Past, present, and future are all happening at once. Come see.”

He led Roy into the parlor and showed him the chair. The older man remembered it had once occupied the spot where the sofa now sat.

“How?” Roy asked.

“I don’t know,” said Doug. “Maybe it has something to do with the government base down in Oak Ridge. Maybe it’s just a glitch in the universe.”

Roy reached out to prod the fabric of the checkered chair with a quivering finger, but his hand fell through it as it evaporated.

“It looks like they pop in for a moment and then snap back to their right time. The people probably don’t even notice because to them, it is less than a second. At least that’s how it probably is for most of them,” he added, remembering the man in the silver suit. He had been moving around as though experiencing time the same as they were. Doug wondered if he had come from the future and if that had made a difference.

They rushed back into the kitchen and found Doug’s mother, still in the same position. Roy walked up to her and touched her face.

“There has to be some way we can keep her here,” he said.

“Even if we could, she would be just like this, moving an inch a year. I’d be an old man before she discovered whatever she’s reaching for isn’t there anymore.”

“Isn’t there’s some way we can speed her up, even if it’s just long enough to say goodbye?” asked the father, a tear running down his tanned cheek.

Doug thrust his hand into the pocket of her coat and came out with a cell phone.

“Monday, December 1st, 2014,” he read off the screen.

“That’s the day before the accident!” Roy shouted.

Doug remembered how his mother had been struck by a car as she left the store that Tuesday afternoon, six years before. She had been Christmas shopping. He slid the phone back into her pocket and raced from the room, his features etched with determination. Returning a moment later with a shotgun, he raised it and aimed at his mother.

“What in God’s name are you doing?” Roy screamed, grabbing the barrel of the gun.

Doug yanked the gun away and rammed his shoulder into his father’s chest, knocking him to the floor. He took aim and fired.

“What have you done?” Roy screamed as he watched his wife fall, only to vanish before she hit the floor.

“I’m sorry, Dad,” Doug said, throwing the gun down. “I had to do something before she disappeared. There wasn’t any time to talk it over.”

“What have you done?” the father repeated, grabbing onto the table to pull himself up. He stumbled over to where his wife had been, collapsed back down to his knees, and buried his face in his hands.

“I had to stop her from going out,” Doug said. He started to explain but suddenly forgot what he was about to say. He had to stop what? Why was his father on the floor?

“You okay, Dad?” he asked, rushing over to help his father up.

“I’m fine,” Roy responded. “Wonder what I slipped on.”

A voice called out from the parlor asking what was going on. Doug looked up to see his mother in the doorway.

“Dad was just trying to tackle the floor,” Doug said, pulling out a chair for his mother to sit in as she limped across the room. His mother was in great shape for her age, but sometimes her leg still bothered her from when she had been shot several years before. It still irritated Doug that the shooter had never been apprehended. The best guess the police could offer was that someone had broken in, planning to rob them, and had been startled by his mother, running off and leaving her on the floor to bleed out after shooting her. It had been a good thing he had been coming in from the fields and heard the shot. It was it had taken her weeks to recover, but by Christmas, she was her old self again. She claimed she never saw her assailant or had any inkling anybody had been in the house before the gun went off.

Out in the road between the house and the fields, a man in a silver suit appeared, stared about in frustration, tapped at his wrist, and vanished again.