All you people can’t you see, can’t you see… how your love’s affecting our reality… Every time we’re down, you can make it right, and that makes you larger than life…
The sun beat down him heavily, sweat beads collected like jewels upon his brow. As he drove his rented BMW convertible down the road, Nick’s cell rang, demanding his attention. He reached for it distractedly as one hand steered the car along the road.
“Nick’s house of pleasure, how can I serve you?”
“You fuckin’ nasty ass!”
“Least I have one, what do ya need dawg? Kevin wanting us back already?”
“Nah man…dude are you listening to our song?”
“Maybe, dude what do ya want?”
“Meet up with me and Rok over at Tin Can aight? Peace!”
Every time we’re down…yeaah, you can make it riiiiiiiaaaght. Yeah, that’s what makes you larger than liiiiiiiiife… yeah! All you people can’t you see, can’t you see… how your love’s affecting our reality… Every time we’re down, you can make it right, and that makes you larger…that makes you larger….that makes you larger… than life…
“And that was Larger Than Life from the Backstreet Boys, next we’ll debut their latest single, Shape Of My Heart, from their coming album Black and Blue. Stay tuned as we give away tickets for tonight’s and tomorrow’s concerts! If you can answer the Backstreet trivia, you can win!”
He hung up and shook his head. It never got to be normal, hearing your song blasting on the radio as you drove through your hometown. Nick ran a hand through the golden spiky hair as his flashy BMW sped through the roads of Tampa Bay. The breeze blew softly in his face, a calming feeling tingled its way through him. Nature always soothed him in ways he could never explain. Still, there were a lot of things about Nick Carter that were beyond explanation. Qualities that most would see as odd, unacceptable, and not right, were part of his body as well as personality. So all of that remained hidden, stifled, so that Nick could make his way into the world normally. None of his siblings had that problem, only him. But by hiding it all it almost felt as if he was just a shell of his true being, of what he could be. But he has lived this way forever so that concept didn’t exactly make sense he supposed.
His family had always accepted it, tried their best to hide it. His parents were always aloof for reasons he never understood. Like they knew something, saw something, or perhaps thought it to be too much trouble. Whatever the reason, they kept their distance. It became evident as he rose up the heights of fame, and it became known by all. He knew what fans, the media, and even the fellas said about his parents, his family. His father was supposedly a cheating bastard; his mother was to them a selfish, greedy, stage mom feeding her kids into the nasty death trap that was Hollywood. None of it was true. None. But Nick could see why they said that, with Aaron on the music charts as well, Angel having been trying to model, and Leslie was testing music herself. All the while, the Carter parents were seen remaining aloof. Especially from Nick himself. Didn’t mean it didn’t sting any less. Over the years he had to force himself to shrug it off, let them all think what they wanted and move on. Because of that, his band mates morphed slowly from friends, and into brothers. He couldn’t help but like it that way, they always were there for him, and tried their best to protect them as they all grew in the spotlight together for seven years. Nick’s biggest challenge however was hiding all the secrets. It never got any easier.
No matter. He and the fellas, (and by that of course meant his fellow band mates of the pop sensation, the Backstreet Boys), had a show that night. They were back in the beautiful area Nick loved to call home. Twenty years old, he felt he had everything. Now he had a show to do in his home town, also being the city where he met his band mates, his surrogate family. The night would be a special one, that much he knew to be true. Amazing shows for that night and tomorrow as well. Yet the voice, the voice that has been haunting him since the day he had turned twenty, seemed to convince him of otherwise.
A feathery, soothing voice it was, compassion seeping through with every breath. “Nickolas…”
He shook his head, upped his speed along the highway. He changed the radio station, and left those thoughts behind him as he drove to meet up with Brian and AJ before the show. They had gotten here on the tour bus and Nick immediately rented a car, having missed home. Now they could relax before going back to the arena for the sound check and actual show.
If only the voice would just finally leave him alone.
“Nickolas!” A younger voice yelled from across the field. There he stood, only five years old. The violet colored tall grasses greeted him as he ran through them laughing. The two suns above shone down upon them, giving the appearance of being one dividing, mimicked conjoined twins. The other child yelled for him again, and he ran, never quite getting there. Butterfly styled creatures fluttered about him. No, faeries, that’s what they were. Faeries who enjoyed the springtime suns. They always did that, sang their songs and danced within the suns’ sparkling rays upon the ground.
There was a mark along his arm that seemed to brighten. One that he couldn’t make out clearly despite its proximity. The faeries danced around him, taunting before his eyes. Confusion plagued him as he heard his voice belt out some song; saw himself upon a stage singing before thousands. Yet he was there, with a friend, dancing in the grasses with the faeries they loved. What was going on?
“Nick!” He heard Kevin yell from the other end of the stage. Brian’s voice could be heard as well. But it was the older cousin who was lecturing now. “Would you quit daydreaming?” The younger one shrugged tiredly. It was happening more and more often. The dreams, awake or asleep, he kept having odd dreams. But they were so real. He rubbed his eyes only to see small sparks of light shooting from his fingertips. The light was like an opal, not one color but many. So different from anything he’d seen unless it was what came from him. Oh no. Not again. He tucked his hands in his pockets quickly in hopes to keep it quiet.
“Nick you ignoring me again?” Oops. But even now, after knowing Kevin for seven years, it was still just so easy to tune him out.
“I love ya but sometimes you drive me fucking insane.” Uh oh, yeah Kevin was irritated.
So he made himself focus. Somewhat.
Screams bounced off the walls of the stadium. The area was packed with fans, mostly wearing shirts with their faces on them. The noise was deafening as he viewed them from backstage. His adrenaline soared as he prepared for the show. It was always like that, the effect of doing what he loved in front of thousands. The group was still riding high from their last album, Millennium as they came nearer to the end of the tour. And later this year their next album would finally be released. They strapped him to the cords as he got on the boards so that they could surf the air above the fans.
He chuckled at the gear he wore, that they all wore, as costumes. It reminded him of a space adventure. Those had been his idea of course, very similar to his suggestion for the Larger Than Life music video. Why not have fun? For them, everything musical they touched was turning into gold. Even music critics who hated the “pop bubblegum craze” that swept the music trends had even been quoted to say the Backstreet Boys were “destined for greatness in the music world”.
“Nick! Come on!” He heard Brian call.
There were the others, in a huddle to start the group prayer. He headed over to them quickly, took Brian’s hand in one, and Kevin’s in the other as their heads bowed down, touching each other slightly. They had already done the giant huddle with the dancers and all. But they always did another after that. Just the five of them. It had been Brian’s idea back when they first started. A moment of silent prayer so that the show can go well and for peace of mind. Or that was how he explained it. Still, Nick was never one for religion, but when they had this moment, he felt still, balanced with the world and all it contained. All the “oddities” about him seemed to feel complete and normal. But it was only then. That day was different however, it was the first time he felt antsy, chaotic and not at peace during the group prayer. He didn’t like that feeling. Not one bit. They broke apart and went to their places. All except Brian, who’s furrowed brow almost resembled the look of his cousin’s, Kevin, but without the thick black eyebrows that completed the look Nick knew so well. Nick never did let up on teasing Kevin, the eldest about his caterpillar appearing eyebrows.
“Yeah, of course I am.” He did a running of the hand through the hair to make sure it was okay. Check. Make sure everything was hooked on right so he didn’t end up with the worst wedgie for the entire concert, check.
“You’re not having the dreams again are you?” He once told Brian about them, being how close they were. His best friend, even if he was five years older. With brick red hair and cerulean eyes that really couldn’t hide much, that was Brian. He was religious and southern born, one of those picture perfect looking lives. Basically the opposite from Nick in upbringing. Yet the two connected from the beginning, goofed off together, had fun, and drove Kevin crazy.
“Just distracted man.”
“Will y’all get to your places?” Kevin hissed as the music leading into the introduction for Larger Than Life began. Within moments they would be on.
Brian rushed to his place while Nick wiggled his feet into the slots upon the board. The screams became loader as they rose, and began to soar above the crowd. He loved this, it felt so natural.
The voice seemed to be louder than the screaming teenaged girls themselves. Why could no one else hear it? Was he just going insane? That’s what everyone would probably say if he ever mentioned the voice. He was losing it. His vision blurred as his feet touched ground once more. Had he spaced during the entire intro? He usually relished it, for it always had given him the feeling of being free during the short time. His hands were set behind his back, Nick was ready to go. Brian began to sing as his vision danced before him mockingly. Hold it together Nick. They danced with synchronization. Until he missed a step. He realized it when he almost rammed right into the dancer. Shit. Keep it together, he told himself. He had to.
“Every time we’re down, you can make it right. And that makes you…larger than life…” They sang. He felt his body sway with haunting irony as he began his own line shakily.
“Looking at the crowd and I see your body sway…” He paused, his head spun, throbbed, pulsated with a sudden pain. Nothing around him was visible; it was all a blur as his balance gave way. His eyes ached as if they were ready to explode.
That was when everything went black.
A crimson light stung his eyes as he blinked rapidly. A yawn escaped as he stretched in the grass. He rose quickly, looked around him. What the heck had happened? This was…this was his dream. But it didn’t feel like a dream. His mind spun as he took it all in. The sky was dark, covered in forest green clouds that gave the area a melancholy air. The two suns he sensed to be there shone just faintly behind them emitting a crimson glow for him to see by. He stood upon dry violet grass that crunched deadly beneath his feet. There were flowers around him of bright various neon blues and pinks. Faeries flittered around from flower to flower. That is, until they saw him. They zoomed in upon the popstar immediately, caused him to almost trip with surprise. Last he remembered was… the concert. It had just begun, and then…then he had passed out. So this had to be a dream. But it felt real. His back throbbed. He felt pain, so could it be a dream if he felt pain? Nick didn’t have a clue. The faeries giggled around him, tugged impatiently on his shirt for him to follow them into the field.
And so he did, having no idea of what else to do. He was, confused to say the least. There had been the voice, the headache from hell; he had felt dizzy, and fainted. Now he was here? None of it made sense.
“And now I’m following Tinker bell wannabes.” He muttered to himself.
Then Nick paused when they pointed at what appeared to be a bolder. It rested beneath what resembled a palm tree. It was shorter, with a pale green stump, and long slightly fuzzy sky blue leaves draping over the bolder like a curtain. He stepped toward it slowly. Dread bubbled in his stomach like boiling water. Instinct told him he didn’t want to see it. When he lifted one of the leaves aside, that feeling proved true.
It hadn’t been a bolder; rather, it was a tombstone.
And carved within was the following inscription:
A Child Angel
Nickolas Gene Carter
Born: January 28th, 1980
Died: May 4th, 1985