Author's Note: While on the phone late one night, my friend EmmE and I came up with this story idea. We continued to brainstorm until I finally wrote it down. This is not historically correct, and no pigmies nor Backstreet Boys were hurt in the writing of this story.
"Ah, isn't it beautiful? The quiet island, the blue sky, the salty sea air. Can't you just smell it?" Kevin Richardson asked as he stepped out of the cab. He closed his green eyes and breathed in.
"Oh, yeah. The heat, the bugs, probably the overpriced drinks; it's great," AJ McLean groaned as he, too, climbed out of the cab. He took off his sunglasses and let his dark brown eyes take in the surrounding island.
Howie Dorough followed him out of the cab. "Look at it this way. We'll have a week of peace and quiet. No screaming fans," he said optimistically.
"This island still makes me nervous," AJ grumbled.
Nick Carter and Brian Littrell were the last two to climb out of the cab. They had been playfully hitting each other all the way to the hotel. They had finally stopped, and Nick was now looking around the island.
"I kind of like it here. Which way is it to the ocean?" he asked.
"Hey, just point me to a lounge chair, serve me drinks, and just leave me lying there," Brian grinned as he, too, looked around the island.
The five Backstreet Boys had gotten a week off in the middle of their European tour and hadn't been sure of what to do. They kind of didn't want to go home, but they wanted to get away from the hoopla of touring. One of the new road managers had told them about this remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that very few people knew about. Kevin, Brian, and Nick were pretty happy about the idea. Howie wasn't too sure, but he could get used to it. Only AJ had been against it. He didn't like nature nor the ocean very much, but it had been four against one.
All five guys set down their bags and looked at the hotel. It wasn't like the big, expensive hotels they were used to, and it obviously didn't have a penthouse. There wasn't even a bellhop to take their bags to their rooms. It was a small, one-story hotel with a thatched roof. Very tropical looking. The Boys exchanged looks, picked up their bags and walked in.
They sauntered up to the front desk and set down their bags. Kevin rang the bell. An elderly-looking gentleman in a very loud Hawaiian shirt turned around to greet them.
"Welcome, gentlemen! You must be the Backstreet Boys. I was told you were coming," he smiled. He stuck out his hand to Kevin. "I'm Stan, and I own this small hotel. It may not look like much, but it has all of the modern-day comforts of home. The ocean is right out back there, and the pool is located right in the courtyard." He reached underneath the desk and pulled out five room keys. He spread them out on the desk.
"Alright! I can't wait to get into the ocean!" Nick smiled, his blue eyes sparkling.
Stan turned his attention to the nineteen-year old, and his smile faded. A look of worry crept into his brown eyes. "You brought a blond with you?"
Kevin looked at Nick, then back at Stan. "Yeah, that's Nick. He's the youngest of us."
"Oh, no," Stan groaned, and his head dropped into his hands.
Nick looked from Kevin to Stan. "What? What did I do? I haven't broken anything yet, have I?" he asked as he swept his blond hair out of his face.
Stan looked up at him and arched an eyebrow. "It's not you personally, boy; it's the natives here. There are a group of pigmies that live just over that hill right in front of the hotel. They sacrifice blonds to ensure a good harvest."
Nick's eyes grew wide. "What?!" He grabbed his bags. "That's it, fellas! I'm going home!"
AJ also grabbed his bags. "Good! I'm going with you."
Kevin grabbed them both by their shirt collars. "No one is going anywhere. Both of you, stay." He let go, and AJ and Nick set down their bags. "Now, I'm sure that this is just a legend designed to scare tourists. Right, Stan?" he asked as he turned his attention back to the elderly man.
Stan shook his head. "It's not a legend; it's true. I've met a few of them in my time."
Kevin raised an eyebrow. "Okay, well, assuming it's true, would they come near the hotel?"
"Oh, no. They won't come over that hill. They think this place was made by a demon. As long as Blondie here stays near the hotel, he should be fine," Stan explained.
Nick breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank God."
"Well, gentlemen, shall I show you to your rooms?"
Kevin, Nick, Howie, and Brian each took a key and picked up their bags. AJ still stood in his spot with his bags next to him.
"Wait a minute!" he said. Everyone turned to look at him. "Nick's life is in danger here, and we're staying. And everyone's okay with this?"
"Yes, AJ. As long as Nick doesn't wander too far from the hotel, he should be fine," Kevin explained.
AJ grimaced, grabbed his bags, and picked up his key. He followed Stan and the others while still mumbling under his breath.
Nick sighed as he unpacked his suitcase. The room was nice, and it was great that he wasn't sharing it with Brian, but he still couldn't get rid of the worried feeling that had crept into his stomach. His life really wasn't endangered, was it?
"Hey, little man! Are you ready to head to the ocean?" a voice behind him asked followed by a knock on the door. Nick looked up to see Brian standing in the doorway grinning. He returned his best friend's grin.
"Sure. Come on in. I've only got a few more things to unpack," Nick answered. He turned back to his suitcase as he heard the door close behind him. Brian sauntered into the room and sat down on the bed.
Nick grabbed two hats and showed them to Brian. One was his old familiar white hat and the other was a darker version of the same hat. "Okay, which one should I wear?"
"Nick, since when do you wear a hat to the beach?"
Nick thought for a minute. "You're right. Do you think AJ would let me borrow some of his red hair dye?"
Brian just looked at Nick's hopeful face for a minute before he burst out laughing. Nick's brow wrinkled up in confusion. "What? What's so funny?" he demanded.
Brian took a deep breath and calmed down. "You with red hair; now that's a funny image," he explained. "Besides, why do you want to cover up your hair so much? No one's going to recognize you."
"Well, it's not that." Nick sat down on the bed and looked at his shoes. "It's just…well…do you think there really are pigmies who sacrifice blonds on this island?"
Brian smiled and patted Nick on the back. "I think it's just a story used to scare tourists. Some places like this love to keep their guests on their toes."
"Yeah, but that old man seemed to believe it."
"Frack, I think it'll be fine. If it'll make you feel better, we'll go exploring tomorrow. If we see anything, we'll run back here as fast as we can. Okay?"
Nick breathed a sigh of relief and smiled. "Okay."
"Now, come on. The ocean is calling our names. Besides, if we hurry, I think we can push AJ into the water," Brian said as he stood up.
Nick's blue eyes brightened. "Okay! Let me get my trunks." With that, he stood up, grabbed his swimsuit, and disappeared into the bathroom.
"Brian, I don't know about this. Maybe we should go back," Nick suggested as he followed his best friend into the forest.
"Just a couple of more feet, and then we'll go back, I promise. I just want to see for myself if there really are pigmies," Brian stated. He continued to walk farther and farther.
Nick groaned, but continued to walk behind him. Brian had promised that he wouldn't let anything happen to him. They had already made it halfway over the hill and hadn't seen anyone or anything but trees.
A few more minutes of silence passed before Nick asked his question again. "Can we please go back now?"
Brian's shoulders slumped. "Yeah, I guess it was just a myth."
They turned around and prepared to go back when they heard something. There were drumbeats coming from their left. Brian's blue eyes grew wide in excitement. Nick's just reflected fear; he looked a little like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car.
"Okay, Brian, you got your wish. It's true. Let's go back now," Nick said. He began to walk back towards the hotel.
"Alright," Brian reluctantly agreed as he followed him.
They had only made it a few feet when they heard the trees rustle around them. Nick moved closer to Brian. They turned in a complete circle, trying to keep up with the noise. Before they knew it, a group of men wearing grass skirts and carrying spears surrounded them. Both of them screamed and hugged each other.
One of them, apparently the Chief, approached them. He lifted a strand of Brian's hair, then turned and said something in another language to another man standing behind him. He dropped Brian's strands and moved to Nick. He lifted strands of the blond's hair and smiled. He said something in the language again and stepped back.
He addressed the two Backstreet Boys in his language. When they didn't answer, he gestured to the man he had been talking to.
"You…names," he said.
"You speak English?" Brian asked in return, a little surprised.
The man beat the ground with his spear. "Names!" he demanded.
"I-I'm B-Brian, and th-this is N-Nick," Brian stammered.
The strange man smiled. "Brian…not white-haired enough…free. Nick…good harvest," he decreed.
Both Boys' eyes grew wide. "You can't take Nick. Can't we work something out?" Brian pleaded as he slowly stepped forward. The man pointed his spear at the older Boy and he stepped back.
The Chief gestured, and several men grabbed Brian. They threw him out of their circle, then proceeded to surround Nick. Just as he was about to get up, something rather large and heavy hit him on the head, knocking him out.
"Kidnapped?! To be sacrificed? Brian, of all the stupid, dumbass things you have ever done, this has got to top them all!" Kevin yelled as he paced back and forth in his cousin's hotel room.
Brian, holding an ice pack to the back of his head, looked up at Kevin and winced. "I'm sorry. I wanted to prove to Nick that the myth wasn't true. I figured we could run away fast enough."
"Well, it's a good thing Stan found you in the woods. We could have lost you, too!" Kevin chided.
"See, I told you this vacation was a dumb idea," AJ, who was sitting in a chair in the corner, commented smugly.
Kevin turned on him. "Shut up, AJ."
"We need to find a way to bring Nick back. We can't just leave him out there," Howie, who was sitting in a chair next to AJ, spoke up.
"We don't really have any police or anything. It might have to be up to you boys," Stan, who was standing in the doorway, said.
Exasperated, Kevin sat down on the bed next to Brian. He lifted the ice pack to look at his cousin's wound. It looked better than it had earlier. "How does your head feel?" he asked.
"Better, but it still hurts," Brian groaned.
Kevin sighed. "If only I knew what we were up against, perhaps I could come up with something."
Stan's face brightened. "I can help you there. I've done some research into this particular tribe, and my information might be useful."
Kevin looked up, and his green eyes brightened. He looked around at his bandmates and noticed that they, too, had sat up straight.
"Come on, follow me." Stan moved from his spot and motioned for the Boys to follow. They exchanged looks and left the room.
Nick's eyelids fluttered open, and he took in his surroundings. He was lying in the middle of a cage made out of wood. It was apparently hanging from a tree and was swinging back and forth.
With a moan, he sat up. He had a tremendous headache. He looked outside of his wooden cage to see a small village surrounded by woods below him. A small group of villagers were apparently getting ready for a feast. All of them were women, and they wore grass skirts much like the men who had knocked him out. Only the women wore thin pieces of cloth as shirts.
Nick rattled his cage to catch their attention. "Hey! Hello! Umm, could someone get me down?"
All of them looked up at him with blank faces.
"Do any of you speak English?" Again, the same blank stare was all he got.
Exasperated, he leaned against the bars of his cage. He watched as one of the women ran into the largest hut. A few minutes later, she returned with one of the men that had kidnapped him. It was the one who could speak broken English. Nick brightened a little.
"I see you wake. Good. Chief want to talk," he said.
"Can you get me out of this cage?" Nick asked.
"Not till Chief say so."
"Then can I ask you how you learned English?"
"Man in neighboring village. Funny clothes."
"Oh, so you know Stan. I'm a friend of Stan's. Now, can you let me go?"
"Not till Chief say so. You bring good harvest."
Nick sighed and leaned against the bars of the cage again. "This whole sacrificing thing; it doesn't hurt, does it?"
"Don't know. No one ever come back." The man laughed at his own joke. Nick just groaned. The man composed himself and continued, "No more talk from you. All be answered when Chief come back."
Nick sighed again and agreed. He watched as the man disappeared into the hut. He wished the guys were there. He also hoped that they could find a way to get him out of there.
Kevin looked over all of Stan's research in amazement. He had never seen so much stuff or so many pictures. He picked up one picture of a man in a grass skirt and holding a spear. He didn't look very tall, and he wasn't smiling.
"Hey, Stan, who's this?" he asked as he showed the older man the picture.
"I couldn't pronounce his real name, so I just called him Chuck. He was the only one who would come near me. I was able to teach him a little bit of English. As I remember, he was no taller than your friend Howie over there," Stan explained.
Kevin arched an eyebrow. "Really?" He was beginning to form a plan in his mind. He was about to approach Howie about it when Brian caught his attention.
"Hey, guys! Take a look at this! Doesn't this look like someone we know?" he asked as he raised the picture so the other guys could see.
Kevin walked closer to it to get a better look. It was a picture of a stone statue. The statue was of a man with big ears, a big nose, and wearing a long robe. It could've easily passed for a charicature of AJ.
Kevin looked over at AJ and Howie. "Guys, I have an idea."
Someone poking him with a stick awakened Nick. Expecting it to be Brian, he opened his eyes only to be disappointed. He was still in the strange village, surrounded by the strange people.
Two men took each of his arms and helped him stand up. He towered over them by a good half of a foot. They led him towards the banquet and the Chief. They made him kneel before him.
The Chief signaled for everyone to quiet down, then he began his speech. The right-hand man who knew English was nice enough to give Nick a basic translation.
"He say you get choice. A woman tell him to spare you," he said.
Nick's eyes lit up. "Really? Kind of like John Smith and Pocahontas."
The Chief finished his speech and stepped aside. The ugliest girl Nick had ever seen stepped forward. She knelt down, stroked his cheek, and touched his hair. It took everything he had not to pull back in repulsion.
"This…your choice. You be sacrificed or you marry Li-Li, Chief's daughter," the man said, then stepped back.
Nick gulped. This girl was absolutely hideous; obviously the product of some serious inbreeding. She smiled at him, revealing three teeth.
Nick looked heavenward. Where were the guys when he needed them?
"Do you realize how absolutely ridiculous I feel right now?" Howie asked, glaring. He stood in the middle of Stan's research room dressed in a grass skirt. His ponytail was on top of his head, and he was holding a spear. He was not happy.
Kevin, Brian, and Stan were trying their hardest not to laugh. "Come on, this is for Nick," Brian said. They eventually couldn't hold it anymore and burst out laughing.
"Oh, very funny. It's all because I'm Puerto Rican, isn't it?" Howie asked, impatiently tapping his foot.
"No, it's because you're short. Besides, Brian and I are going to be your 'prisoners,' and AJ and Stan have the most important jobs of all," Kevin reasoned.
"No! I am not going out there dressed like this. And I'm especially not riding in that wagon!" AJ protested as he walked into the room. He wore a long, gold robe and large hoop earrings that matched his ears in size. He had a very unhappy look on his face.
The other four doubled over laughing. AJ glared at each one of them, moving his head so fast that his earrings jingled.
"Have I told you guys how much I hate this vacation?" he spat.
Kevin finally regained his composure and looked at each of the guys. "Okay, does everyone remember the plan?" he asked.
"Yeah, but I think we need to go over it again just to make sure," Stan said.
"Alright, Howie will march into the tribe with Brian and me as his 'prisoners.' This way we can find Nick. Then Stan will wheel AJ out in his wagon and light him a la The Princess Bride."
"Excuse me! No one told me there would be fire involved in this! No, I'm not doing it," AJ protested as he stood there with his arms crossed.
"AJ, do you want Nick to be sacrificed?" Kevin asked.
AJ's tough demeanor gave a little. "Well, no."
"But I don't want to be sacrificed either."
"You won't be sacrificed, or even the slightest bit burnt. In that robe, the fire won't touch you, I promise," Stan said, holding up his hand.
AJ sighed and gave in. "Well, what choice do I have?"
Kevin smiled. "Good! Then we're off to rescue Nick."
Brian walked over to his cousin and placed a hand on his shoulder. "I sure hope this works," he said.
Kevin sighed. "Me, too, Bri. Me, too."
Nick gulped as he sat next to Li-Li at the banquet table. He couldn't believe his luck. Either marry this girl or be sacrificed. At that moment, sacrificing himself was looking more and more appealing.
Someone banging their goblet on the table pulled Nick out of his thoughts. He looked up to see the Chief standing up. He began another speech, and Nick's translator leaned towards him.
"He say you make choice now. Li-Li or death," he said.
"Aren't they both the same?" Nick asked.
The man glared at him. Nick shrugged and grinned sheepishly. Everyone at the table turned to look at him.
Nick cleared his throat. As he spoke, the man translated. "Well, um, this is a pretty big step. I mean, it's still going to take a lot of thought. And…"
Just then, Nick was interrupted by one of the men yelling. Everyone turned to see a man dressed like them leading two strangers into the village. Nick's eyes widened when he realized that they were Howie, Brian, and Kevin.
The Chief didn't look as pleased and said something to Nick's translator. The man grabbed Nick and, with the help of several other men, threw him into his cage.
"What's going on?" Nick asked.
"Stranger…must protect harvest."
"Hey! You said I had a choice!"
The man told him to be quiet as he draped a big, dark cloth over the cage.
Howie swallowed nervously. Several men were standing in front of him poised to do battle. One, apparently the Chief, walked through the crowd and stood directly in front of him. Stan had taught him some of the language, and he certainly hoped that it would be enough to get by.
The Chief began to question him. All Howie basically understood was, "Why are you here?"
Howie answered him as best he could. "I've brought prisoners."
"Why? None of them are blond."
Howie was proud of himself. He was understanding more of the language than he thought he would. "Yes, I know, but both were looking around the woods."
The Chief looked past him and glared at Brian. "You look very familiar," he said. He thought for a minute, then his dark eyes lit up. "You were with the blond boy!" He then turned his attention back to Howie. "And you. I've never seen you before."
Howie gulped. The Chief looked like he was getting very suspicious. This made him very nervous. Slowly, the Chief raised his weapon. All Howie could do was stare at the sharp end of the spear pointed towards his chest.
"Leave. Now," the Chief threatened ominously. Howie backed up slowly. This was it! This was the end!
When Howie didn't make a move to leave, the Chief aimed his weapon. Howie shut his eyes.
Just then, there was a loud, booming voice. "Put down your weapons!"
Howie opened his eyes to see AJ and his wagon coming through the trees. He looked around at the tribe to see their eyes widen. The minute AJ's robe lit up in flames, all of the pigmies dropped to their knees. They began to speak in their language so fast that Howie couldn't catch it all.
As AJ launched into a speech (it apparently didn't matter whether the tribe understood him or not), Howie untied Kevin and Brian. The three of them began to search the village for any sign of Nick.
The three of them split up and looked everywhere. Howie and Kevin checked the huts while Brian around the banquet table. Every few minutes, they would look back at the tribe. Every pigmy was spellbound by AJ, and AJ appeared to be enjoying every minute of it.
Brian was getting anxious. He was worried, and he was about to give up. Just then, he heard some muffled sounds coming from the trees to his left. He alerted Howie and Kevin, and, cautiously, the three approached the trees.
They pushed back the leaves to find something shrouded in a black cloth. The noises were coming from it.
Kevin slowly removed the cloth, and all three prepared for something horrible to come jumping out at them. Instead, they found Nick, his hands and feet tide.
"Brian, Kevin, Howie! Boy, am I glad to see you," he said in a normal voice.
Kevin signaled for him to be quiet, then whispered, "Not as half as glad as we are to see you."
"How do you open this thing?" Howie asked, examining the cage.
"That's a nice look for you, D," Nick grinned.
"Shut up, Nick."
Kevin, Brian, and Howie struggled with the cage until the door popped open. Nick climbed out and hugged each one in turn. Then they started towards the woods. They were halfway there when they heard the sound of arguing. They looked up to see the pigmies becoming very impatient with AJ.
All of a sudden one of the pigmies turned around and saw them. He yelled something in his language, and all the other members of the tribe whirled around. The four guys' eyes widened.
"Run!" Howie yelled. The four split up and took off just as the tribe ran after them.
Brian raced and dodged around the banquet table. He crawled under it, across it, and around it with several tribesmen in hot pursuit. As he slipped past a couple of pigmies, he looked up to see AJ still standing on his wagon. His robe was extinguished, and he was taking it off.
"AJ! Do you see the others?" Brian screamed. He was running so hard that he couldn't look around him.
"Yeah! Come on!" AJ yelled back.
Brian made it to the wagon in which AJ was standing. AJ helped him into it, and he turned to see Kevin and Nick running towards them. They were several strides ahead of their short pursuers. Brian reached out to help them onto the wagon while AJ grabbed a stick and fended off several pigmies.
Finally, Brian looked up and saw Howie running as fast as he could. The pigmies almost had him. AJ reached out and grabbed him. Nick, Brian, and Kevin fended off the pigmies as best they could.
When all five were in the wagon, Stan cranked up the truck that was attached to it and stepped on the gas. Truck and wagon disappeared into the trees, leaving the pigmies in the dust.
"Are you sure you gentlemen won't reconsider staying? I promise those pigmies won't come over that hill," Stan said, grinning at each Boy.
Nick shook his head. "I don't care if they come over that hill or not. I'm not staying," he declared. The other four agreed.
"Well, alright. I'm sorry about the whole pigmy fiasco. I just hope you won't hold it against my resort."
"Don't worry; we won't," Kevin reassured him.
It was the next day, and the Boys were packed and ready to go. AJ was all smiles. Nick glanced out the windows every few minutes looking for the cab. Kevin and Brian were still arguing over whose fault Nick's kidnapping was. Howie sat in the corner and tried his hardest not to fall asleep.
The cab finally arrived and Nick and AJ dashed out to it. Brian nudged Howie, and they followed the other two. Kevin lingered behind and shook Stan's hand.
"Thank you for everything," he said.
"Don't worry about it. I'm just sorry about Nick," Stan said.
"It wasn't your fault. If it hadn't been for you, we might not have ever gotten him back," Kevin smiled. "Well, we've got to go. Maybe we'll be back later." With that, he waved to Stan and walked out to the cab. He climbed in, and it drove away.