Per Aspera Ad Astra

There are no un­reach­able goals
There are no un­doable folds
There are no un­break­able trends
Or un­nat­ur­al bends

Michael was a strange child, not on­ly he was a sleep­walk­er but dur­ing his lu­na­cy he did strange things with his body. His par­ents were al­ways wor­ried for him. Some­times they'd wake up in the mid­dle of the night to find him stretch­ing his body again, hav­ing that com­plete­ly blank stare in his eyes...

Of course they per­fect­ly knew that un­der no cir­cum­stances you should wake up a lu­natic be­cause that might lead to a heart fail­ure, so all they could do is cry and watch their kid stretch his back and limbs to the most un­nat­ur­al an­gles. His par­ents weren't re­li­gious but even they some­times said it be­tween them­selves that it looked like the boy was pos­sessed by the dev­il.

Michael's par­ents nev­er saw his in­cred­i­ble flex­i­bil­i­ty as a tal­ent but rather as the re­sult of a ter­ri­ble men­tal ill­ness. They nev­er spoke about it and tried to hide it as much as pos­si­ble. It wasn't hard be­cause Michael nev­er stretched in the awak­en state and seem­ing­ly he wasn't even aware of what his own body was ca­pa­ble of at night, he on­ly com­plained of­ten that his body was tired and his mus­cles burnt even though he wasn't do­ing any­thing.

He'd of­ten wake up in the morn­ing and whine that his back hurts and his legs feel weird. His moth­er would rub some pain re­liev­ing gel in­to his back and over his thighs, try­ing to not think too much of what she saw him ac­tu­al­ly do­ing to his back and legs last night.

When Michael was 14 the seizures be­came so bad and he was do­ing such ex­treme things to him­self, seem­ing­ly try­ing to curl his body in­to the tight­est spi­ral, not on­ly his body bent back­wards and his head went all the way be­tween his thighs, but it seems his in­ner dev­il was pulling him fur­ther and fur­ther as if its goal was to make the back of his head reach his own bel­ly one day...

He start­ed skip­ping school a lot be­cause he'd al­ways be too tired in the morn­ing. Some­times he couldn't stand up and had to sleep for a few more hours be­fore re­gain­ing the pow­er. By the evening he would be more or less fine, to the joy of his in­ner de­mon that couldn't wait for the night to stretch him with a re­newed force.

All of this was a dark se­cret in the fam­i­ly, but when his par­ents fi­nal­ly de­cid­ed to bring their son's ill­ness to the light and take him to a doc­tor, the boy was im­me­di­ate­ly hos­pi­tal­ized and his par­ents al­most lost their parental rights be­cause of not re­port­ing the dis­ease ear­li­er, as they con­fessed that it was go­ing on for many years and first be­gan when he was maybe 5 or 6...

Michael was tak­en to the Back­folde San­i­tar­i­um, a hos­pi­tal for men­tal­ly chal­lenged chil­dren that spe­cial­ized in sim­i­lar dis­or­ders. He was di­ag­nosed with an ad­vanced form of kon­tor­tio­sis, a dis­ease that re­quired con­stant med­ical at­ten­tion, which meant he could no longer live at home...

At first Michael was to­tal­ly shocked to stay in that hos­pi­tal be­cause no mat­ter where he looked he'd see kids do­ing weird things. He couldn't un­der­stand what they were do­ing! The hos­pi­tal was lit­er­al­ly full of young pa­tients, and you could fold any of them sev­er­al times and put in your pock­et. But as he made friends with oth­er boys, he was even more shocked to find out that his own body was al­so ca­pa­ble of such things... It was like sud­den­ly re­al­iz­ing you had a su­per­pow­er!

The hos­pi­tal re­placed his home and school. The lessons be­came very sim­ple and no longer gave him a headache. Most chil­dren would sit as they want­ed dur­ing the lessons and dur­ing the day over­all. Sit­ting in the split would be the most sim­ple and com­mon case, while some kids would sit on their own heads or in a chair with their bod­ies twist­ed 180 de­grees around or hav­ing their feet be­hind their own backs... They were al­lowed to do what­ev­er kept them calm and at peace and caused no harm to oth­ers.

Michael's par­ents vis­it­ed every day, and the rest of the day he played with his new friends. The life be­came sur­pris­ing­ly care­less and com­fort­able. Com­fort­able in the odd­est way, should we say.

Every evening all the doc­tors and their pa­tients would gath­er in one big room, some beau­ti­ful mu­sic would play and one or two of the long-time pa­tients would demon­strate some of the things they could do to the mu­sic...

See al­so

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