I think we stopped sharing the same room when I turned 22. Not because we had a major fight or that the ‘sparks’ was lost between us, it was much more complicated to explain than that. It was an unspoken agreement between Nick and I. Sometimes, I would arrive at the lobby of a hotel and Nick would announce that he was bunking off with one of the guys, most of the time, it’d be Howie. Other times, I would approach AJ in the tour bus and asked if he’d like to share the suite with me. It was the easiest when Leighanne travelled with us, it was immediately understood that I would be sharing the suite with her. And whenever Nick brought along his then girlfriend, I felt glad too, knowing that he had someone to bunk off with him.
Tonight however, we had no choice but to share a suite. I could tell that Nick was already restless, I was too. Turned out, AJ was too quick for the both of us. He asked Howie first.
It was already eleven at night and I wanted nothing more than to sleep the rest of the night away. I had a feeling that was what Nick was looking for too. I opened the closet, hang my coat in there and after feeling satisfied, closed it back again.
Kicking my shoes off next, I grabbed a shirt from another luggage and set to change myself into them. Nick dropped his jacket aimlessly on the floor and bending on all four, proceeded to push one of his smaller luggages under the bed.
He didn’t even bother to change clothes, slamming himself on the bed and moaning his gratitude for the comfort it brought after hours on the bus. I moved to my side of the bed and flung his arm to his side. He groaned underneath a pillow, which was now covering his head.
“Move your hand or face the consequences.”
“I feel the love.” Nick muttered after reappearing from underneath the pillow, his eyes were half closed.
“Time to switch off those lights.” I said. He nodded. “Everything okay?”
I grinned. “Yup.”
“Okay.” He went back under the pillow, left hand stretched out to blindly reach out the switch to his side of the bed, where the lamp was. Seconds later, it was complete darkness on his side of the bed. I proceeded to switch off the main switch in the suite and immediately, we were completely in the embrace of darkness. I turned to my left; facing the wall and the pillow I appreciatively was hugging, and wish for sleep to come.
Yet another tiring day for the life of The Backstreet Boys and Brian Littrell was looking forward to sleep the rest of the night away. Looking at the young boy walking half asleep next to him, he knew he too, was looking to nothing more but an undisturbed rest. It wasn’t common to be told that they had the rest of the night to themselves and it wasn’t even 9p.m.
“Well bro, I’ll definitely remember Singapore now.”
He looked at Nick and raised an eyebrow. “You said the same thing when we saw that huge arcade at the airport just now.”
He giggled. “Yeah, but this one tops the rest.”
“Yeah, what’s that?”
“Sleep at 9p.m. Frick! Just the way mom does it. 9 sharp Nickolas, switch off that TV and go to bed!”
“Your exact words were ‘I hate my mom!’” He reminded him.
Nick shrugged. “Yeah well, I miss it now. I wanna go to sleep at 9 every other night!”
“Yeah well, maybe the country we’re going to next will let us do the same. We’re flying out tomorrow remember.”
“Aww man, I already miss this place.”
“A day at a time okay Frack? Tonight, we get to sleep in.”
It was amazing how they were treated like huge celebrities here in Asia. Brian often wondered if they knew that they were nobody back in the US in the first place. Where would they keep Michael Jackson then, he wondered to himself as they entered the suite of the Fullerton Hotel.
“Lou wouldn’t have hook us up here just like that.” Nick said as he dived straight for the bed.
“I bet. I wonder what kind of stories he told the reps here.”
“Backstreet Boys, the biggest boyband in Germany and UK, the next Take That.” Nick replied exaggeratingly, as if he was a game show host.
Brian smirked and joined him in bed. “I thought we’re the next New Kids?”
“Save that when we make it huge back home Bro.” Nick smiled playfully before they switch off the table lamp and dozed off within seconds.
Nick was dreaming. Of what, he wasn’t entirely sure, but he knew he was dreaming and that he was being interrupted. He could feel himself being pulled away from his deep sleep and slowly being weaved back to the real world. No, it couldn’t be wake up call already; he JUST fell asleep! The sensation of being watched was too strong, he knew if he didn’t open his eyes right that instance, Kevin would resort to screaming in his ear rather than just stand there and stare at him. He decided a scream would result in a very bad mood swing for him and opted for the next option. Wake the hell up.
The room was still dark and he was sleeping on the side, facing Brian. By the look of it, it wasn’t wake up call yet. The soft drum of the air con was the only thing he could hear. It was cold, he noticed that now, yet the sensation that he was being stared upon never ceased.
And that sweet smell…he didn’t recall wearing any perfume, nor did Brian. Besides, it smelt like something a girl would wear. It was getting stronger too, almost to a point of stinging his nose. Too sweet and too much.
He blinked twice; adjusting to the dark, trying to make out Brian’s face and see if he was awoke for some reason. Maybe he had woken him up to accompany him to the toilet? He knew the guys made fun of them, but Brian and Nick had a thing for toilets in the hotel. They might be in the suite but it still felt foreign to them. Dark is still dark guys; they would defend themselves. No way were they walking in the dark alone to make it to the bathroom which most of the time, would be situated at the other end of the suite.
A pair of eyes was blinking back at him. But they weren’t Brian’s.
Now that he realized, the person sleeping next to him was anything else but Brian. He could hear her breathing, her body next to him and especially those eyes staring at him in the dark. It might have been his guts; he just knew this wasn’t some crazy fan who wanted to be in bed with them. This was something else.
Nick closed his eyes. If he had his blanky with him, he would have pulled them over his head and then start praying for whatever it was to go away, but he didn’t. He could feel himself shivering, suddenly; the air con was blasting too high. He never knew it could get this cold in this country.
Please God; make whatever it is, go away now. Please. Please. I promise I’ll never turn Howie’s hair purple again. I promise!
And then he felt it. The thing moving and slipping away from the bed, as if climbing out of it. He could hear no footsteps but wished that this thing would get out of the suite rather than linger somewhere else. What if he turns to the other side of the bed and found her staring back at him again? When had he referred to it as her?
Brian woke up to someone humming. He felt Nick’s side of the bed moving and assumed that it must be Nick on his way to the bathroom. He stayed still, waiting for the inevitable to happen. He knew Nick was going to wake him up and made him wait by the door while he answered nature’s call. He frowned, trying to remember if Nick had bought a new perfume recently. It smelt too sweet for a guy to be wearing. His mind wandered, knowing that it was a smell of a flower but couldn’t quite put his hands on the name.
Had Nick always sound so girlish? Brian wondered. Sure the kid still hasn’t broken his voice box but to sound this soft and almost seducing? He was about to turn and question the boy when a dark silhouette passed by his side of the bed and walked towards the door.
It definitely wasn’t Nick. Nick doesn’t have long black hair that was reaching past the waistline. Nick definitely wasn’t wearing any white long dress to bed. And Nick definitely couldn’t glide across the room, especially with his two left feet.
And Nick definitely cannot walk through a closed door.
Knowing that a second longer and his brain would freeze on him, Brian reached out for the switch to the table lamp and turned it on. The room was dimly lit and feeling a little bit better, he turned to face Nick.
He had his eyes closed, if it wasn’t for the trembling of his body, Brian would have thought that he had slept through the entire thing. He placed a hand on his shoulder and started to shake him.
“Please go away, I have done nothing wrong, please God, save me, I promise I’ll be good…”
“Nick, it’s me, Brian, wake up.”
“No…no…it’s just in my head…in my head…in my head…”
“Frack come on, it’s me, Brian, wake the hell up!”
Ghosts don’t know his nickname, and ghosts definitely wouldn’t say something like ‘wake the hell up’. He opened his eyes slowly and found the room dimly lit, with Brian looking back at him.
“I saw it too.” Brian said, his nervous blue eyes darting back and forth from him to the door. “She went through the door.”
“You…you don’t have to te…tell me that.” Nick stammered. He was rubbing his arms furiously, wanting to get some warmth there.
“Fair share.” Brian shrugged.
“She…she was on this bed, staring at me the whole time.” Nick said. “I thought it was you. Man, my hairs standing on ends!”
“Okay, let’s unshare.”
“No…no such word Brian.”
“Not time to be perfect Nicky.” Brian snapped. “What time is it?”
Nick looked at the wristwatch he was still wearing. “12:05a.m.”
“Think AJ and D still up?”
“AJ might, D I don’t think.” Nick replied.
Brian started biting his nails, a sign that he was thinking very hard. “I don’t want to stay here anymore.”
“Me too.” Nick agreed. “But what if she’s out there, waiting for us?”
“It’s too bright out there Nick, I don’t think she’s stupid enough to hang around.”
“Don’t say hang!” Nick cried.
“Okay fine, I’m going Frack, you coming?”
“You kidding? I’m not staying here by myself!” Nick said, already grabbing a pillow and the comforter they were sharing.
Surprisingly, AJ and Howie weren’t asleep. In fact, Kevin was there with them, along with the local rep, Faizal.
“My God, why aren’t you guys asleep yet?” Brian said as they crashed the little party. AJ and Howie were actually playing video games while Kevin and Faizal seemed to be having some kind of conversation among themselves.
“And waste the night away? How long has it been since we get this much time off?” Kevin replied. “And Faizal here has a lot to fill in about Singapore, I’m just trying to widen my knowledge.”
“Knowledge my ass.” Nick whispered at the back. “Can we hang out here with you guys? I just want the bed, since it’s unoccupied and all.”
“What’s wrong with your room?” AJ asked without even looking away from the screen.
“Um…” Brian stuttered.
“There’s a ghost in our room.” Nick said in between a yawn, already making his way to the bed.
“You sure it’s not just a monster under your bed this time?”
“I’m serious. She went through the door, Brian saw it too.”
“You’re not really serious, are you Rok?” Howie asked. “Nick will never get over this monster thing if we keep feeding him tales.”
“He’s not kidding unfortunately. I saw it with my own two eyes. Would swear on a bible if I have one right now.” Brian said.
Kevin studied them both. Nick didn’t have his Game Boy with him, which should count for something since that thing had always been joint to him at the hip. “You guys do look a bit pale.”
“Did you get a good look at it?” Faizal asked.
“Long hair, long white dress…I can’t see her face, I don’t think I want to.” Brian shivered.
“And she smell sweet and she kinda like…humming?” Nick said from the bed. “She was lying in between Brian and I and staring at me when I woke up.”
“You’re really serious.” Kevin said, looking interested. AJ and Howie had abandoned their game, now approaching them by the bed.
“I wouldn’t come here armed with my pillow and the blanket if I’m not.” Nick said. “And Brian would be pissed cause I woke him up.”
“Is it the smell from the Jasmine flower?” Faizal asked.
“I don’t know what flower it is but it sure smells sweet like a flower to me.” Brian said.
“I think you just saw a ghost we locals call the Pontianak. We don’t usually advice people to say the name out loud, we believe they could hear us calling them.”
“No worries there dude,” AJ said. “I can’t even pronounce it.”
“What’s this…thing…exactly?” Howie asked.
“The myth is that, when a pregnant mother passed away, she would rise again to search for her baby. Another myth that goes around said that when a woman was brutally murdered or say, raped to death, she’d rise to seek vengeance.”
“We definitely didn’t rape or kill any women.” Brian protested.
“And we don’t have her baby.” Nick agreed.
The local rep laughed, amused at their simplicity. “They are known to disturb young men, especially virgins.”
“Well, I think you boys fall in that category.” Kevin mused.
“Shut up man.” Brian groaned.
“So…she has fangs and all?” AJ asked.
“And ugly too. They appeared pretty and would hum this hypnotic melody but once you’re lured in, they turned ugly and smell nasty.” Faizal said. “In a way, she kinda looks like a banshee although she’s no fairy that turned evil. She just shrill in the same way. I think the best way to describe her is the Asian’s answer to Dracula.”
“She can scream that high too?”
“Right.” Faizal said.
“I don’t think I wanna hear anymore.” Nick whined, already covering his head with his pillow.
“I’m not sure if I can continue even,” Faizal said. “My hairs standing on ends just talking about it.”
“Maybe we should just go back to sleep. Next time cousin, you might wanna check the closet and under your bed before going to bed.”
“Ain’t our fault Kevin. Who would have thought something like that would wanna hang around Fullerton?”
“Fullerton is surrounded by Banyan trees so I’m not surprised. But I’ve never heard of guests being disturbed by them before.”
“What does those trees has got to do with them?” AJ asked.
“Well, it’s been known that they like to hang around those trees.”
“Guys, no more talking about hanging!” Nick groaned.
Howie sighed, still having mixed feelings about what he had just heard. “At least we have the comfort of knowing we’re leaving for Malaysia tomorrow.”
AJ looked at him, surprised. “I think you pronounce that country perfectly.”
“It’s called early Phonics J, you might wanna get yourself hook for a lesson or two.” Howie teased.
Faizal got up, ready to excuse himself from the gang. “There’s a town in Malaysia called Pontianak, just thought I’d give you a heads up. Have a good sleep guys, I’ll see you again in the morning.”
Nick was wide awake. Brian still couldn’t believe what he had just heard. Kevin started to go through his bag, looking for their tour schedule.
“Don’t panic, I’m sure I didn’t see any ‘Pontianak’ on our stop over in Malaysia.”
“Kevin!” Nick groaned. “You’re unbelievable!” He slammed back on the bed, the pillow already covering his face.
“What did I do?”
AJ threw his pillow at him; it hit him squarely on the head. “You said the no-no part, the ah-ah word.”
Howie smirked. “If we get another visit, it’s your fault old man.”
“I can’t sleep.” I whined, tired that I had been facing the wall in the dark for God knows how long. I decided to turn and face him but Nick’s hand was on my back, pushing me forward.
“Don’t even think about it.”
“Come on Nick, I’ve been lying in this position for too long, my muscle’s cramped!”
“I’m NOT gonna turn into a …a…”
“Don’t say it!” Nick groaned.
“Okay fine, I don’t even know how to pronounce that name. Look, I’m not gonna turn into some kind of a monster okay? You’ll still see me if I turn and look at you.”
“Did you check the closet?” Nick asked.
“Yeah, I hang my coat in there, didn’t I?” I said. “Did you check the bed?”
“Yeah. My bag’s down there, I saw nothing.”
I turned to face him, slapped his hand away when he tried to stop me. “Look, this is getting out of hand Frack. We’re not even in Asia anymore. Heck, they don’t even have Banyan trees anywhere.”
I heard him sighed in the dark before pulling his pillow off his face. “I know…it’s just…”
“I know, I still believe that I’ll see something walk through the door if I ever face another door in our room. See, that’s why I’ve been facing this stupid wall all night. And frankly Frack, I’m insulted that you refuse to see my face!”
Nick laughed. “Just not in the dark, Frick.”
“Tonight is weird…when was the last time I called you Frack, anyway?”
“Not for awhile…” Nick said. It felt like he had more to say so I waited. He just sighed.
“What time is it?”
Nick always seem to have his watch attached to his wrist. And this one glows in the dark too. Very matured.
“Almost four.” He groaned. “We’re never gonna get any sleep tonight. I’ll just get a mother of a headache if I even try.”
I pushed myself up and switched on the table lamp, trying to remember which city we were in right then. It brought me back to the night before, when Howie had won the jackpot at one of the machines he tried.
Of course, we were in Vegas. There is no such thing as vampires in Vegas. Strippers yes, vampires? I don’t think so. At least not the real ones.
I recalled Nick being the biggest loser, spending a few thousands for nothing. It wasn’t really his fault though, AJ and I kept telling him to put more every time. I think he was still pissed for even listening to us. And then we ended going to an Italian restaurant, with Kevin coming up with the best idea yet.
“Howie, you’re paying, you big winner.”
It has got to be one of the most expensive dinners we’ve ever had. I don’t think I’ve eaten two huge lobsters in one sitting until last night. I wasn’t that hungry to be honest, but our goal was to piss Howie off.
I turned to Nick, who was still in bed, looking tired as hell. Probably still missing the money he lost to that machine.
“Hey, lets hook up that Xbox of yours. Might as well make full use of this free time while we still have it.”
“Not to mention to polish that rusty skill of yours.” Nick scoffed.
It worked. He was up in a second and made a beeline for the game set. For a moment there, I thought I saw the young kid from back then. The one who was always excited whenever Playstation was brought up. I felt connected to the Brian I was back then too, the one who wasn’t as responsible as I am today and a lot more carefree. I often wondered if I had lost that part of me before, but looking at us right now, I believe Frick and Frack are still there in us, somehow pushed to the back as the years passed by.
I walked over and sat next to him on the floor, grabbing for my console. He was smirking at me, the glint in his eyes that I hardly see anymore, was absolutely radiant now. I hope my eyes reflect the same too.
“Ready to lose?”
“In your Frackish dream.”
He cringed. “Brian, you gotta stop calling me Frack, we’re not exactly 16 and 21 anymore.”
I laughed and then just shrugged it off. “Feels like it.”
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