Chip stumbled upon it by accident but learned to take advantage of it on his own.

He was heading back to campus after a dismal discussion with his bank. The manager didn’t care his account was overdrawn because he won the auction for a life-sized dalek used in several classic Doctor Who episodes, she only wanted the nine hundred forty eight dollars and five cents he owed the bank. Chip had thirty-six cents on his person. He handed it over along with a spring from the innards of a pen, half a stick of Juicy Fruit gum and a clump of ubiquitous pocket lint. He swore she rolled her eyes when he slumped out the door but he was too humiliated to make a scene.

He wasn’t paying attention to his surrounding, having walked the same path a hundred times during his five years at university. He was revising his master’s thesis proposal in his mind since his advisor hated his last three suggestions.

Chip was pulled out of his revery when a shiver ran down his spine, a horse whinnied and a gruff voice hollered, “Get out of the way, boy!”

He jumped half a foot to the left to avoid a man on horseback. He blinked hard, not believing his eyes.

What was once a modern town was now a scene from an old Western, only more dusty. He coughed to clear his throat, pulled off his glasses and polished them on his shirttail. He pushed them back on his nose and looked around.

He was still in an old West town. What used to be concrete beneath his feet was now a dirt footpath. The paved streets were replaced by rutted wagon tracks, the brick edifices were now rough cut timber buildings.

He took a deep breath and asked himself, “What would the Doctor do?” He decided to retrace his steps to see if he could recreate the circumstances that brought him here.

When he was looking around he stepped in a pile of fresh horse manure. He cursed and slipped off his loafer. As he tried to find something to scrape the dung off his shoe, he heard laughter.

He turned around and saw the same cowboy from earlier. “If you’re gonna wear city clothes, you gotta expect a little dirt, son.” The man nodded at him and walking through the swinging doors of the nearest building.

Chip had the presence of mind to follow the man, “Wait, sir, I have some questions for you.” He pushed open the doors to the saloon when he felt a familiar tingle crawl over him. “Shit!”

“Watch your mouth, Chip! There are children present.”

Chip took a deep breath. He was back in the present, standing in the doorway of the local barber shop.

The man who’d trimmed his hair for years looked over at him, “You doing okay, Chip? Why are you holding your shoe?”

Chip looked down and found his loafer in his hand; it was still covered in manure. He grinned widely, “Nothing’s wrong, Ron, nothing at all. I have to go. Sorry about the cursing, ma’am.” He nodded to the woman sitting by the door waiting for her son’s hair cut.

He hobbled home as fast as he could, wearing one shoe and clutching the other tightly in his hand. He had proof, definitive proof that time travel was possible. Now he needed to figure out a way to control it.

* * *

It took him months to create a device that could detect the pockets where the space-time continuum was vulnerable and years to figure out how to build something to control the time period. By then he was laughed out of graduate school and forced to rent a basement room from an eclectic woman who didn’t mind him puttering around at all hours of the day or night as long as she got her hundred dollars on time each month.

He took a job doing menial labor to support himself. It gave him plenty of time to think. The other workers kept their distance from the strange man who talked to himself and scribbled endless notes on whatever scrap of paper was handy.

Every time he stepped through a rift in the space-time continuum, he laughed at his professors who said he’d never amount to anything and his theories about dimensions were a waste of space and time.

Time. Chip now had all the time in the world and he’d go back and show them who was foolish, but there was one thing he needed to attend to first.

He wanted to make amends to the only woman he’d loved. He tried contacting her since his discovery but his phone calls, emails and instant messages were rebuffed. She’d married and built a life for herself and didn’t want him in it.

He’d go back to that one moment, that one instant when he lost her love, and change it.

He flew out to where it began with Sandra. He waited until it was dark and approached the neighborhood where she used to live. He set the dials for six years in the past and started searching for a rift. It was surprising how numerous they were. He found one in the backyard of a house two doors down from the one she’d shared with her mother. He grinned, fortune was smiling on him tonight. He turned on the Time Dialer and stepped through the pocket into the past.

Chip felt a burning in his chest before he heard the gunshot. He dropped the Time Dialer and the Rift Sensor as he fell to his knees, clutching at the sticky wound.

“I got him this time, Betty! That damn raccoon won’t be making trouble again.”

A light illuminated the yard as Chip crumbled to the ground, the life draining out of him. The last thing he heard was, “Shit! That wasn’t no coon, Merle!”