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Chapter 2 – Was It A Dream

“Nick! Nick, come on we’ve gotta get to sound check”. Nick groaned and began to stir. Was he hallucinating? Was he still dreaming? He thought he just heard Kevin’s voice. Fuck, that must’ve been some strong shit I smoked last night. He’d not seen Kevin in years. “I’m not gonna tell you again Carter, we’ll go without you if you don’t get your ass out of that room in two minutes”

What the fuck? I’m laying off that stuff.

Nick dragged himself out of bed, not even looking at his surroundings for a moment. Hey this doesn’t feel right, since when did I have carpet in here? Nick looked down and scratched his head, this wasn’t right, he looked up and blinked then looked again. Where the fuck am I? It looked like a hotel room, a nice hotel room at that. He hadn’t been in a room like this in years and wondered how on earth he’d got there, could it be that he’d met some rich bitch who’d fancied a bit of rough last night and she’d taken him back with her? He really had no clue.

Looking around the room, he saw no evidence of anyone else having shared his bed the previous night.

“One minute Carter!” called the guy who sounded just like Kevin.

“I’ve gotta be fucking dreaming” he said to himself and walked into the bathroom and switched on the light.

“Holy shit” he exclaimed as he caught sight of himself in the bathroom mirror. His hands flew to his face.

Staring back at him was a man he hardly recognized as himself. Gone were the dark circles which had long become a permanent fixture under his eyes, in their place was smooth, young looking skin. The broken veins on his cheeks had vanished, as had the pale puffy skin. His hair was short and highlighted instead of being long and dishevelled with flecks of grey.

“This can’t be fucking real” he leaned forward and examined himself more closely, then closed his eyes, counted to ten and opened them again “fuck”.

Running back into the bedroom, he stood in front of the full length mirror and examined himself more closely. There was no mistaking that it had to be himself he was looking at, but how was that possible? He cast his eyes slowly over his reflection in the mirror, the large belly and man boobs were gone too, he looked like he used to look back in his twenties, before he’d let himself go.

“Well fuck me!” he muttered to himself as he stared at his reflection, smiling “I’m a good looking motherfucker”

But it couldn’t be. How could this be real? The last thing he remembered was smoking a joint and drinking a beer in the trailer, he hadn’t even remembered going to bed. People didn’t just travel back in time, it wasn’t possible! As far as he was aware, time travel hadn’t even been invented. No, this had to be a dream. A fucking vivid one at that!

By the time he opened the door of his hotel room, there was no one there. Maybe this was all just an elaborate hoax. He felt kind of weird, his head a bit fuzzy, so he closed the door and went back to bed, maybe he’d wake up back in the real world after a nap. He closed his eyes and sleep took him, but it wasn’t a peaceful sleep as he was plagued by nightmares.

“About fucking time” AJ said, causing Nick to wake up with a fright.

“What…what’s happening?” Nick asked, wondering how he was seeing a young version of AJ. He rubbed his eyes to make sure he wasn’t still dreaming and then looked at the man he hadn’t seen in a while, his former friend and band mate.

“Where the hell were you dude? You missed sound check and Kevin was going fucking nuts, you better come up with a good excuse” AJ said and sat down on the edge of the bed. Nick eyed him up, noticing that he actually still had his hair.

“AJ? What the hell are you doing here?” Nick asked “Sound check? What are you talking about? What sound check?”

“Oh my god, you must’ve been really out of it last night? Fuck me, you’re kidding me right?” asked AJ

“No, I’m not” Nick replied and flopped back into the pillow

“Bro, we’re in Manchester, England, the Never Gone tour, remember?” AJ replied and pretended to knock Nick on the head.

“Oh yeah, sure I remember” Nick replied, trying to come to his senses in front of AJ, not wanting to appear like a complete basket case. Inside he was thinking differently.

“Come on, you better get yourself showered and dressed and we’ll go get something to eat before the show, you look like shit and Kevin will freak if you pull this shit with him. What were you thinking last night, what were you on man? Wasn’t seeing me go through hell enough to put you off taking that stuff?” said AJ

Nick didn’t know what to say, so he said nothing. He cast his mind back and remembered AJ’s battle with drugs and alcohol, how he’d gone to rehab and managed to stay off the drugs ever since, but after a few years began so drink socially again. Life had turned out pretty good for AJ.

He walked into the bathroom and took a shower, maybe that’s what he needed to bring himself back to his senses because he sure as hell wasn’t thinking straight right now. He stood there under the jets of water and began to think, what if this were all real, what if he really was back in 2005? What was he going to do? Things like this didn’t happen in reality, you couldn’t just go back in time - could you?

He stepped out of the shower and wiped the condensation off the mirror and took a good long look at himself, yes, he wasn’t dreaming, he really was twenty five again and back in 2005, but why?

After throwing on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, he and AJ went down to the restaurant for something to eat. Nick kept glancing sideways at AJ, still hardly able to believe he was here and real. There were a few girls waiting in the hotel foyer who seemed to get all excited at the sight of them, he remembered those days, but it all seemed like a distant memory. Even in the restaurant there were girls waiting, groups of them sharing plates of ridiculously expensive food between them, just so they could be there in case they caught a glimpse. Fans - it had been a long time since anyone had wanted to see him, but he wasn’t that forty year old loner now, he was a twenty five year old Backstreet Boy again, and he’d better get used to it because god knows how long this was going to last.

“There you are” said Kevin with an angry glare “there had better be a good reason for the no show earlier”

“Erm…I wasn’t feeling too good” Nick replied, shocked at the sight of Kevin. Nick recalled the last time he’d seen who he used to refer to as his older brother. It wasn’t in person – they’d gone past being on speaking terms – but rather on TV. Nick had to admit that Kevin had aged well and was still a good looking guy in 2020.

“More like too wasted to function” Kevin said, bringing Nick back to the here and now. “It’s gotta stop you know Nick, we can’t keep on carrying you y’know, it’s not fair or right”

“I know Kev, quit with the lecture OK” Nick said, he knew Kevin was right but he didn’t want to admit that to him. Kevin had always been right. Why had Nick never listened to him the first time around?

“We’ll talk about this later OK, now come on, let’s eat and then get to the arena, we’ve got a show in case you’d forgot” he said. Nick carried on eating his food, wondering how on earth he was going to get through a show when he wasn’t sure about anything anymore. His whole world had just turned upside down, he’d not sung anything in a long time, never mind sing any Backstreet Boys songs.

How do I get myself out of this?