"Hey, c'mon guys!" begged AJ, a pleading looking on his handsome face. "You gotta see this! It's whack!"
"I don't know, AJ," said Howie, tilting his head at his friend. "You said that about the last movie you wanted us to watch with you."
"Yeah," agreed Nick, "and that last movie was just plain weird, AJ."
AJ feigned hurt, "You just don't have any good taste, you all don't know a classic when you see one."
"Oh, really," joined Brian, taking AJ's bait.
AJ smiled slyly, "Yeah, really."
"We'll just see about that, AJ," said Brian with determination, then looked to his best friend, "Right, Nick?"
"You're on your own this time, Bri," replied Nick, smiling at AJ's little ploy. "You guys enjoy your movie, I'm going to go play some N64."
And with that, Nick turned and headed to the back of the bus, leaving the others to the mercy of AJ.
"All right," declared AJ, motioning to Howie, Brian, and Kevin. "Park yerselves on da couch and prepare to be amazed with this very classic movie."
Kevin began to strategically back away, trying to go unnoticed. He didn't know how he got included in AJ's little showing, but he was not going to let Nick be the only one to escape.
" 'Ey, Kev!" hollered AJ, smirking at Kevin's attempt to miss out on his little show, "Where do ya think yer going? Get yer butt back here!"
Kevin's shoulders slumped at his foiled escape, he gave AJ a look of 'this had better be worth it'. AJ just kept on smirking.
AJ went up and put the tape into the VCR and then jumped onto the couch between Howie and Brian, Kevin sitting next to Howie. The movie began and they all got settled in and watched, none of them noticing that the bus was slowing or that a light haze had begun to fill the air around them.
Soon the air was thick with the light blue haze, catching the attention of those within it.
"Hey," said Kevin, looking at the fog developing around him and coughing slightly, "What the hell is this?"
"I don't know," coughed Brian, his eyes beginning to water, "It sure isn't all that pleasant... let's open some windows-" *cough* "-try and vent some of this stuff out." Brian continued, beginning to wheeze after every few words.
As they went to open some windows, they found it was hard to move. Their bodies were slow to react to what they wanted them to do.
"Shit," gasped AJ, opening a window and reveling in the fresh air that hit his face, but noticing that it didn't improve his breathing or help the dizziness that filled his mind, "What... the hell... is this stuff?"
"Gas," Kevin strained out in sudden realization, the small bus room beginning to fade out as he tried to focus on his friends, "Oh, God... it's gas..."
"What?!" gasped Brian, then after a small coughing fit, "Gas?......Why-..."
Brian got no further as darkness encroached the edges of his vision, soon covering it as he sank to the floor, unconscious.
"Bri!" exclaimed AJ, moving toward his friend even as the darkness also claimed him. He fell to the floor not far from Brian.
Howie squeezed his eyes shut and then blinked rapidly as he sank onto the couch, trying to fight the cloud taking over his mind.
"Kev?..." breathed Howie, just before falling into unconsciousness.
Kevin did not hear him, as he had already slumped to the floor, leaning against the couch. None of them were able to notice it, but the bus had now come to a stop.
Nick idly played Nintendo, directing his little Mario Cart through all the twists and turns. He found himself not real interested in the game, it wasn't fun without his friends.
With a sigh, Nick carelessly tossed the controller to the side and turned the game off. Even if it is a stupid movie, it'd be worth it just because we're together having fun. Nick had learned very early on in life that you should take advantage of a friendship when it was offered, you never knew if you'd get another chance at one or how long that offer would last.
Nick pushed himself off the floor and began towards the door, when he felt the bus jerk to a stop. What the...
Nick's face scrunched up in confusion, Why are we stopping? With a bad feeling in his stomach, Nick quickly opened the door and made his way to the front of the bus. As he went along, he noticed a haze in the air. It was a light blue color and he could see it seeping out of some open windows.
He coughed, his eyes watering. Realizing what the haze was, Nick quickly brought the collar of his shirt over his nose and mouth, effectively blocking what little left of the gas remained.
Nick frantically reached the front where he'd last saw his friends, and froze. Before him were Brian, AJ, Howie, and Kevin. All were sprawled out and not moving.
"Guys?" he tentatively asked, praying they would answer. He pulled his shirt away from his face, the air now somewhat clean, "Bri? ... Kev? ... 'J? ... 'D?"
Nick began to feel panic rise within him, his heart hammering in his chest. He dropped down beside Brian, placing his hands on his shoulders.
"Brian?... Frick?" he called, shaking his friend, "C'mon, Bri... you're scarin' me. Brian! ... Wake up!"
The bus door behind Nick flew open. He spun around, startled. He stared into a face that seemed just as surprised as he. Nick at seeing a dark clothed woman with three large men in equally dark attire, the men with face masks and automatic weapons. The woman at seeing one of her targets conscious.
Before Nick could even comprehend what was going on, the woman signaled to one of the large men. Nick stared in fear as the man came at him, weapon in hand. Nick remained by his friend's side, not wanting anymore harm brought to him or the others. He glared at the dark clothed man, somehow finding defiance within himself.
The man stopped before him and leaned close. Nick couldn't stop himself from flinching away.
"Say good-night, kid," the man growled, bringing the butt of his gun around and slamming it into the side of Nick's head.
Without a sound, Nick slumped down next to Brian.
The man turned back to the woman, a satisfied smirk gracing the haggard features beneath the mask. He had enjoyed that.
"OK, lets get them loaded up and outta here, before the cops come," ordered the woman, an angry scowl twisting her beautiful face. "Some damned civilian motorist saw us and the bus and picked up his cell phone, he had to of been callin' the police. We gotta book it."
The man nodded his head and motioned the two men behind his boss to help him with moving the unconscious Backstreet Boys.
Fifteen minutes later, a black unmarked van pulled away from the large tour bus. Leaving an empty bus, a bus that was supposed to have the Backstreet Boys within its walls. A bus due in Seattle in one hour, but would never arrive.
Kevin slowly awoke to a cool breeze against his face. He frowned and slowly opened his eyes, confused. We are in the bus, how could there be a breeze?
As his blurred vision cleared he found himself looking up at a blue sky and trees were all around him. Kevin then noticed he was lying on grass. Startled, he abruptly sat up. The world spun and his head pounded. Groaning, Kevin brought his hand up to his head and looked around. He saw Brian, Nick, Howie, and AJ. They were all sprawled on the ground around him, none of them moving.
Panicking, he scrambled over to them. Crouching by Brian, he was relieved to find that he was breathing, as were the others. Kevin looked back down at Brian and tried to wake him up.
"Brian!" Nothing. "Brian, come on! Wake up!" Kevin was now shaking him.
"Would the person yelling please shut the hell up?" groaned a voice.
Kevin turned and saw AJ sitting up, rubbing his head, "Man, I have the worst headache. Anyone got some Tylonal?"
"AJ!!!" cried Kevin.
"You're awake!" exclaimed Kevin, crawling over to him, not trusting himself to stand.
"Well, DUH!" supplied AJ, beginning to look at his surroundings. Seeing the others and the strange change of scenery from a bus to nature got his attention.
"What the hell is going on?"
"I don't know," replied Kevin. "Help me wake the others."
Kevin went to Nick and Brian while AJ went to Howie. Now between Nick and Brian, Kevin noticed that Nick had a bruise forming on the side of his head, just above the temple. Concerned, Kevin gently touched the discoloration. A faint moan came from the young blond, but he did not wake. Kevin was worried that Nick had been knocked out by a different means than the rest of them.
Kevin and AJ continued to try and wake their friends, but try as they might, they couldn't wake them up. "Let's just let them wake up on their own. That's how we woke up," suggested Kevin.
AJ nodded and they both moved to sit under the shade of a nearby tree, waiting for their friends to return and trying to remember what had happened.
A low groan was the greeting of another conscious member of their group. Brian brought both hands up to his face, wincing at the pain in his head. He laid there, trying to figure out why he was waking up with such a headache when he didn't even remember falling asleep. Brian cautiously turned his head when he heard a sound. He saw Howie slowly sitting up, looking around with a confused expression on his face.
"Howie?" whispered Brian, not wanting to speak louder in case his headache worsened.
Howie turned to him, "Brian? What's going on? Why are we in a forest?"
"What?" asked Brian, sitting up and looking at his surroundings, feeling his headache beginning to gradually lesson. He noticed AJ and Kevin staring at them from under a nearby tree, "Hey, guys."
AJ and Kevin had decided to not say anything as Brian and Howie had awakened, not wanting to confuse them. Now that they seemed coherent, they moved from the shade of the tree to their sides.
"Hey, welcome back. Did ya get enough beauty sleep?" AJ smirked, glad his friends were back in the land of the living. He also felt better, the headache he had now gone. The same was true of Kevin, too.
Brian rolled his eyes, "Ha ha, AJ." He then noticed the expression on Kevin's face, "What's going on, Kev?"
Kevin looked at his cousin, remembering some of what happened, "I'm not sure, Brian. I seem to remember... a cloud of gas?... filling the bus and-"
"Nick!" Brian suddenly gasped out, interrupting Kevin and looking wildly around him as he noticed he saw only three of his friends instead of four. "Frack!" Brian spotted his friend not far from him, still laying on the grass, still unconscious. Brian hurried to his side, "Frack? Nick, do ya hear me?" Brian shook him, "Nick! Wake up!"
Brian felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to see Kevin. "Nick can't hear ya, Brian. He was knocked out, just like the rest of us, but," Kevin paused and leaned over Nick, turning his head to the side to reveal the dark bruise. "Whoever did all this, knocked Nick out by force instead of gas," Kevin finished sadly, now remembering more of what happened.
Brian could only stare at the dark bruise on the side of his friend's face, shocked.
"Hey, wasn't Nick in the back of the bus playing Nintendo?" asked Howie, memories beginning to work their way through his fuzzy mind. "We were in the front watching one of AJ's weird movies, that's where the gas came in through the vents."
"Yeah," agreed AJ, also remembering, "There isn't a vent in the back room of the bus, Nick must not of gotten any of the gas and when he came to the front, he found us all unconscious. The people who did this probably came in and found him still awake and-"
"-Knocked him out the old-fashioned way." This came from a female voice.
They all looked around for the woman, but could see no one.
"You won't be able to find me. There's a radio on the ground next to a large rock... Ah, good. You found it."
Kevin had gotten up and followed the voice, finding the small radio.
"Now," the woman continued, a false sweetness entering her voice, "How did my 'precious' Backstreet Boys enjoy their nap?"
The guys all glanced at each other, not liking the tone that had suddenly entered the woman's voice. AJ angrily swiped the radio from Kevin, "Who the hell are you?" he hissed, glaring at the black object in his hand, "What do you want from us?!"
"Tsk tsk, AJ. Such a temper," the woman replied, then her voice took on a sinister quality, "Now, you don't want to piss off the very people who shall decide if you live or die. Trust me, you really don't."
AJ's eyes widened. The way the woman's voice had changed so easily caused a chill to run through him. It was like turning a light off and on.
Kevin took the radio from AJ, also noticing the abrupt changes in the woman's voice. He kept his voice even as he asked, "What do you want with us? Why have you brought us out here?"
The woman's voice changed again, returning to the false sweetness she had used before, "Well, Kevin, I am a criminal. I like to break the law, do things MY way." Kevin glanced at the others, not liking how the woman had spoken as if she were discussing the weather, instead of declaring herself as a wanted criminal. Kevin focused back on what she was saying, "I have been quite successful in this trade, but I found it got boring. I needed a change, something big. Then what do I see on TV, but you guys. The famous and extremely loved worldwide, Backstreet Boys. An idea formed in my mind and I had to act on it." Her voice took to a calculating tone, "You, my friends, are now mine. You shall do as 'I' tell you. I can see and hear everything you do and say. You are all now under MY control."
The guys looked fearfully at one another, knowing they were in the clutches of a mad woman. Brian unconsciously laid his hand on Nick's chest, fearing for his and his friends' lives. Nick stirred, a soft moan parting his lips.
Brian turned his full attention on his best friend's awakening form, "Nick?" he whispered, not wanting to draw the woman's attention, "Nick? You wakin' up?"
Nick groaned again while rolling his head to the side, the sound reaching the demented woman, "Ahh, Mr. Carter. How good of you to join us."
Nick's eyes snapped open and he sat up abruptly. Light drilled into his eyes and shot pain through his head. Bringing a hand to his face and over his eyes, he moaned again, feeling his stomach turn.
"Nick?" Brian whispered, worried.
Nick moved his fingers enough so he could see Brian and still shade them from the light. Brian was surprised, he saw fear in Nick's blue eyes.
Nick had come to with a jolt after hearing that evil and familiar voice. He remembered that voice, he'd heard it as he laid on the floor of the bus, just before blackness took him away. There was no feeling, no real emotion in the voice.
Nick slowly laid back down, finding it hard to focus. He brought his arm over his eyes, letting out a steadying breath.
"Nick? You okay?" asked Brian.
The woman answered Brian's question, a mocking tone conveyed her voice this time, "What do you think, Brian? That he's going to wake up all fine and dandy after getting clobbered in the head?" They all stayed quiet, not sure if she was expecting an answer.
"Really," she continued, "I thought you were smarter than that. He has a concussion, Mr. Littrell."
"Will he be okay?" Howie hesitantly asked.
"Yeah," the woman offhandedly answered, as if she could care less, "he just won't be feeling all that hot and he'll probably have trouble with the difference of up and down. He'll be fine in a day or so."
The woman's voice changed yet again, becoming emotionless and unfeeling, "That brings me back to my plan. You shall have seven days to reach a cabin approximately twelve miles northwest. I believe I put a compass in your jeans pocket, Kevin, and I'd strongly advise you to keep the radio with you at all times, for I shall contact you every so often. You must stay together at all times. If you do not reach the cabin in the appointed time... Well, I can say that the consequences won't be pleasant."
"Why?" asked Howie softly, disbelief in his tone, "Why do you want us to do this? What's the point?"
The woman laughed, the sound mocking, "Why... It's a game, Mr. Dorough. No game has a point or reason for its existance, only a team with a common goal to achieve. The question is, will you be able to reach your goal?"
Silence answered her question.
The woman now seemed to become excited, "Now, let the fun begin! I shall be watching you with great interest. Please, for your sakes, don't disappoint me."
Brian couldn't take it any longer, he jumped up from Nick's side and grabbed the radio from Kevin's shocked hands.
"Fun? ... FUN?! ... You call playing with our lives FUN?!" he shouted into the small, black radio. His only answer was static.
AJ had stayed silent throughout the conversation, unable to believe what was happening. He now looked from Brian to Nick and finally to Kevin, who now stared at a compass in his hand.
AJ shook his head. "Shit," he swore, unable to describe the situation he now found himself and his friends in any other way.
Howie looked around at his friends, "I can't believe this is happening."
Brian stared angrily down at the radio in his hand, desperately wanting to reach through it and get his hands on the person that was the cause of all that has happened. He wasn't used to the anger that was now burning in his chest. It was just a reaction, though now he slowly reigned in the anger. It wouldn't change or help their situation.
"Well, believe it," said Kevin, studying the compass in his hand and thinking, "We just have to do as she says. There's nothing else that we can do."
"Well... what do we do?" asked AJ, stepping toward Kevin and looking at the compass.
Kevin looked from the compass to up at the sun, trying to tell what time of day it was. He no longer had his watch. He squinted, then looked at the others, "Do any of you still have your watches?"
They all, excluding Nick, looked at their wrists. All looked at Kevin and shook their heads.
Kevin sighed, "Well, near as I can tell, I'd say its around 7:00 p.m."
AJ looked confused, "Yeah, so?"
"It's too late to do any walkin' so I guess we should spend the night here. That and the fact that I don't think Nick is up to walkin' around," replied Kevin, gesturing to Nick who was still lying on the ground with his arm draped over his eyes.
Nick felt like shit. Plain and simple. His head hurt, his eyes were all funky, and his stomach did somersaults every time he moved. He did not like having what that lady had called a concussion. No, not at all.
He didn't dare move, feeling that if he did he would throw up. He did not want to be sick in front of his friends. They were in a very dangerous situation, they all had to be strong. Throwing up would show that he was weak, and he would not be weak. His friends needed him. Plus, it was rather embarressing.
He felt a hand on his shoulder, "Hey, Nick? You all right?"
"Yeah, I'm fine, Frick," said Nick with a sigh, not moving his arm to look at Brian.
Brian glanced at the others, not the slightest bit convinced that Nick was 'fine'.
"Uh-huh, sure. You wanna sit up for a while and talk?" asked Brian.
No! Nick's mind screamed, but he answered, "Yeah, I guess so."
Brian helped Nick up and they started toward the shade tree where the others had all gathered. Brian had felt Nick's knees buckle slightly when he had picked him up off the ground. Nick also slightly swayed, his feet stumbling along. Yeah, sure Frack. You're just fine.
It had took everything Nick had to not throw up when Brian had lifted him up from the ground. As they stumbled along, Nick felt the blood leave his face in a rush. Oh, God... this is not good.
Brian suddenly felt Nick tear out of his grasp, watching him fall to his knees a few feet away. Fear rose within him when he heard Nick being sick. Brian went to his side and rubbed his back, trying to comfort his hurt friend.
Nick closed his eyes when he was done, angry that he couldn't stop it. He felt Brian rubbing his back and it helped, until Nick realized that this was not helping their situation any.
Brian felt Nick abruptly shrug him off. He pulled away, slightly hurt. Nick got shakily to his feet and managed to reach the shade under the tree. Brian shook his head and joined him.
Nick sat down and refused to make eye contact with his friends. He could feel all of their concerned stares and it was nice to know they cared, but they had to be strong to get out of this alive. Nick would not let them waste their time worrying about him when they could be thinking on how they could get out of this.
"Okay," started Kevin, sparing one last glance at Nick. "Let's see, what are our options?"
"Well," said Howie, "that woman said that she could see and hear everything we do and say. So we don't have much choice, do we?"
Kevin thought for a moment, "No, I don't think we do. I mean, we don't even know where we are."
"So... what?" commented Brian, "Do we just go through with this crazy scheme and go to that cabin she talked about?"
Kevin sighed, "There's nothing else we can do. We don't know where we are, who has taken us, or what they plan to do."
Howie broke in, "Maybe if we do as she says, she'll let us go."
"No, she won't."
They all looked at Nick, who continued, "I saw her face. She can't let us live if I've seen her face. Well, atleast she can't let 'me' live."
"Hey, don't say that Nick," Brian jumped in, "We won't let her hurt you." Brian saw Nick's mouth form a scowl, and amended sheepishly, "Well, atleast not anymore."
AJ joined the conversation, "You saw her face? When?"
Nick finally looked at his friends, "On the bus, when... when I found all of you just lying there. I tried to wake you up, when the door flew open and she was standing there with three big guys with guns behind her. They had masks on, but she didn't. So I saw her face, then she had one of those guys knock me out." Nick grimaced slightly at the memory, touching the bruise on his head before continuing, "I'll never forget her face. She's beautiful, but something about her... I mean, her eyes... they were... evil, cold. It was like she could kill you by just looking at you." Nick shuddered.
"She's crazy," declared AJ, breaking the brief silence. "How can we go against someone demented?"
"We'll just have to find a way," said Kevin, not willing to let this woman take over their lives. Their lives were their own to control, only their own and no one else's. He would prove that, no matter what, he would prove it.
Nick found himself suddenly feeling very drowsy, his eyelids felt heavy and his mind foggy. It was becoming difficult to stay aware. Brian noticed Nick fighting against sleep.
"Nick, you okay?"
How many times is he going to ask me that? thought Nick, but answered Brian truthfully, knowing he could not hide how tired he was, "I can't stay awake."
Brian looked at Kevin, silently asking what they should do. Kevin looked at Nick, "It's okay, Nick. You can go to sleep, we all should. Then we can get an early start tomorrow."
They could barely see Nick nod his head before he laid down on the ground and was immediately asleep.
Kevin turned to the others, "We should wake him up every few hours. I heard you are supposed to do that with concussions."
They nodded their heads. "I'll do it," said Brian, then asked, "Do they cause you to be sick, too?"
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure they do," Kevin saw Brian sag in relief, "Don't worry, Brian. He'll be fine. Okay, now we should get some sleep," continued Kevin. He smirked dryly, "We have a big day tomorrow."
As Kevin, AJ, and Howie all laid down and fell asleep, Brian leaned back and looked up into the darkening sky. He folded his arms behind his head, trying to get comfortable on the hard ground. A smirk turned Brian's mouth as the sound of AJ's soft snore soon filled the small clearing. Brian blinked. Atleast I'm not here alone. That would be the worst, to not have my friends with me. Brian sighed, finally feeling sleep begin to claim him. Before he drifted off he made a mental note to wake and see to Nick in a few hours.
An evil smile lifted the corners of her mouth, distorting her beautiful face as she watched the screen before her. The last one had finally fallen asleep. She had listened with great interest as they had discussed what they should do. She was glad that they had decided to go along with what she had planned, she didn't want to kill them so soon. Not after all the work she had done to make this all happen.
No, no, they'd do it. They didn't have any choice. When the game was over, after they had reached the cabin, 'then' she would kill them. As young Nick had said, he had seen her face and the others would know that she had killed him, so they would have to be killed also. Although, she hadn't ever considered letting them live.
Yes, she would enjoy this. This was so much more fun than just ripping off banks and pulling elaborate cons. Oh, much more fun. Part of the fun was not knowing what would happen, but still having control. It gave her a different kind of power than she had ever felt before.
She enjoyed killing. The power to end another's life was like nothing else. She waited in suspense of the moment when she would kill the Backstreet Boys.
That is, if they survived the journey to the cabin...
Her thoughts were brought back to the present as one of them awakened. She looked at the clock on the wall. It read 10:37 p.m. She chuckled. It was amazing how time flew by when one's mind was occupied by such wondrous thoughts.
Brian awoke when he had a nagging feeling that he should. His internal alarm clock was ringing. He sleepily rubbed his eyes, looking around him.
Brian noticed that it was very light out still, almost the same as when he had fallen asleep. This nagged at him. Shrugging, he pushed it aside and sat up. He crawled to Nick's sleeping form, smiling at the peaceful expression on his face. Aw, I hate to wake him...
With a sigh, Brian placed his hand on the side of Nick's face, slapping it gently.
"Nick!" he whispered only somewhat loudly, not wanting to wake the others. "Nick, wake up!"
Brian slapped Nick a little harder, bringing a groan from his sleeping friend. "Yeah, that's it. Wakie, wakie!"
Brian frowned when he got no more response, "Nick!"
"Nick!" This time Brian hit him a little too hard.
"Ow!" Nick cried, his hand flying up to his face. Nick's eyes snapped open to see a sheepish Brian.
"Oops... sorry?" Brian asked tentatively.
Nick just stared at him, confused. His head still hurt the same as before, and the image of Brian's face seemed to waver, the unfocussed sight causing his stomach to flip. Swallowing, Nick blinked up at Brian as confusion jumbled his thoughts. Nick wanted to know why Brian had woken him up.
Brian read Nick's expression and explained, "Kevin said we should wake you every few hours. He said he heard that you had to do that with concussions."
Nick slowly nodded, laying his head back on the ground and closing his eyes. Before Brian could say anymore, he was asleep.
Brian sighed. This is going to be a long night.
Brian again settled back on the hard ground, falling asleep only to wake two more times to wake Nick. He was glad it became easier to wake Nick each time. He also couldn't help notice how the sky stayed somewhat bright, he could even still see some of the sun on the horizon. It just moved to the side somewhat. These thoughts were on his mind as he drifted off once again.
As early morning's orange light broke out, Nick woke up and blinked his eyes. He felt sick. Oh, no... not again. Nick gingerly sat up and looked at his friends. They were still sleeping. Nick closed his eyes as a wave of nausea swept through him. I gotta get outta here.
Nick carefully gained his feet and stumbled out of the clearing, leaving his friends behind. He didn't want them to know he was sick again. It was bad enough that he was sick in front of them before, not again.
Brian jerked awake, his eyes opening to see AJ leaning over him with a big grin on his face.
"It's morning, time to get up. Kevin's orders," AJ replied, helping Brian to stand.
Brian stared for a moment, then asked, " 'Kevin's orders'?"
"Yeah," said AJ, leaning closer to Brian as he continued, "He's turned into a commando. He's been ordering us around since he woke up five minutes ago."
Brian raised his eyebrows, "Really?"
"Yep, he's getting us all ready to go in search for that damned cabin."
Brian chose to change the subject, "Where's Nick?"
That caught AJ off guard, "Don't you know?"
"No, I just woke up!"
AJ looked at Brian and Brian didn't like what he saw in his eyes.
AJ swallowed, "Uh-oh."