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13th July 1978

The left side of his face swelled like the heart of a melon 

after too much rain; as if the protons threw a punch that

broke his jaw. After a restless night, where he dreamt of 

medieval torture, branding irons placed on his bare feet 

he went to see the institute doctors & told them about

the world’s weirdest workplace accident - how seventy-

six billion electron volts swung a right hook at his mug.

The rig hadn’t been firing so Bugorski put his head into

the particle accelerator’s channel like an absent-minded

 hunter might look down his barrel to see what gunk was 

jamming his gun. The lighthouse warning beacon was shut off; so 

waves of protons lanced through his lobes 

like a scalpel licks its razor-sharp tongue over a cranium’s

dotted lines to begin its keyhole surgery. The atom swarm

was stingless like a hive of native bees; he didn’t feel any 

pain as the sub-atomic drones danced through his brain’s 

hexagonal chamber signalling where their new flower was. 

All he saw was the light of a trillion pieces of honeycomb

held up to the sun; as though a star had gone super-novae

in his face, a flashbulb illuminating the universe’s precise 

structure. No reporting it. He’d imagined what they’d say

around the canteen; instead his immersion in the Northern

lights became just another journal entry, as if plotting 

his daily calorie intake or the regular action of his bowels. 

Only when the left side of his face was left on his sheets 

the next morning, did Bugorski self-admit. He was saved

a radioactive death by the focused energy beam that cut 

through his body like a harpoon’s steel arrowhead used 

to puncture whales: unlike the atmospheric gamma ray 

blanket that clothed residents of Hiroshima & Nagasaki

head to toe & detonated their cells like dynamite. He was 

the quantum equivalent of Phineas Gage – the iron rod 

that pierced his skull replaced by a beam of particles

travelling near the speed of light. He outlived the U-70 

synchrotron that tried to assassinate him, but the act

left its silhouette on the wall of his head. The left side 

of Bugorski’s face was permafrost – frozen at thirty-six. 

The hearing in his left ear collapsed like the Soviet Union

leaving only communism’s tinnitus ringing in his brain.

The world’s first time-traveller really; those cheek cells

of his fresh-faced enthusiasm stuck forever in 1978.