The Pledge


The school was hard enough to get into, let alone the fraternity. You wouldn’t have thought that to look around though. The jocks and idiots who made up most of the population in Alpha Thanatos stumbled round the room half baked, drunk or were creating new dares in which you had to drink each other’s piss or take a shit on the front lawn.

The house was the nicest of all the frat’s Adrian had been to, bay windows brought in natural light and showcased the pictures of previous Alpha Thanatos members that ran along the corridors. Adrian began to wonder why his Dad had made such a big scene about him getting in, he’d told him stories about his time here since he was five years old. It had been a week and he’d began to think his Dad had oversold the whole thing, maybe it was just because fraternities weren’t allowed to do initiations anymore, but the whole experience so far was boring.

Jared was the house leader and seemed quite cool, but he still had a very serious demeanour about him, he was a rare breed of jock and nerd, able to keep a football player physique and still get a 4.0 GPA. At parties girls would gravitate to him, his short brown hair and green eyes were all part of the allure and if that weren’t enough the fact that his arms would bulge out of any shirt did the trick.

Adrian was one of the new brothers to the house along with nine others. He was scrawny and lanky, not a great combination to attract anyone but he did have a chiselled jaw and lush head of hair to flick in just the right way. He’d already made friends with some of the other newbies, Chad was a football jock, but he was more chunk than muscle and always had a beer in his hand. Damian was a player and made an effort to hit on every girl that entered the house. Normally they would be interested in his deep brown eyes and coffee skin but as soon as he opened his mouth all that went out the window, pickup lines were not his forte.

“Is that a ladder in your tights or my stairway to heaven?” Damian asked a girl stood with a group of friends. Resulting in them all throwing their drinks in his face.

George was his favourite though; you could always find him in a hoodie with his emo style hair flicked out the hood. He kept to himself and always had his nose in a book but he was a laugh and would always be up to play a board game and not care so much about impressing others.

Tonight, was different than the other nights they’d had so far in the house. Jared seemed to be on edge and the other fifteen frat brothers; that made up the house before the newbies followed his suit, always looking over their shoulders and being cautious about how much they had to drink.

Jared had two guys in the house who followed his every command and made sure everyone else followed suit. Sebastian was a giant who measured at six foot five; always seen in camouflage khakis, he seemed like he’d already done a few turns in Afghanistan, his clothes and shoes were always immaculate, and his buzz cut was sharp. Adrian just assumed that he grew up in a military household and was bought up with a certain ideal. Marc was Sebastian’s opposite, he was scrawny and greasy, every other word from his mouth was a curse and he spat around like he was trying to mark his territory, even in the house. The three of them came down the staircase together, Jared in front with Sebastian and Marc flanked either side of him.

“So, this night is already upon us. Initiates you have had a week to settle in and have a little fun, but now it is time to show what you are worth.” Jared raised his hand to the group like he was their leader, and this was a cult.

“I fucking knew it, I knew y’all still did initiations in secret!” Damian belted out in his southern drawl accent with a clap.

“Shut your fucking mouth rookie!” Marc piped up; spit flew through his rat teeth. Jared raised his hand to stop him, before he nodded to another brother stood by the window who began to lower the blinds. While another ushered out the party guests and left only the members of the Fraternity.

“Tonight, you will learn what it means to be part of Alpha Thanatos.” Jared told the room.

Candles were lit to light up the room and all the older brothers started to chant. ‘You hide you die; you hide you die; you hide you die…’

“What the fuck is this shit, I thought we wouldn’t have to deal with any of this macho bullshit.” George whispered to Adrian.

“I dunno man, maybe it’ll make things more interesting.” Adrian replied, but didn’t know what to expect.

“Brothers, grab your tadpole.” Jared declared and one by one an older brother grabbed a newbie by the shoulders, tight, while still chanting. Some trying to wriggle free.

“If you hide you die; if you try to run you die. This has always been the way, and tonight we will find out who the sacrifice will be.”

“Sacrifice?! What the fuck man, what if some of us don’t want to take part in this shit.” George made the mistake of going against Jared, with a simple look over his shoulder Sebastian left Jared’s side and planted his fist in George’s gut. Winded he spat out blood and fell to his knees.

“No one gets a pass; we will all be fairly judged.” Jared declared to his flock, before he took out a pair of pliers and ripped a tooth from his mouth, blood dribbled down his lip, but he didn’t seem fazed at all. The older brothers in the room followed suit, in turns while keeping hold of the newbies.

“What are you doing!?”

“I don’t like this, let me go!”

“Please, please no!” Pleads and screams came from newbies around the room who began to panic and try to escape their captors. The five older brothers who weren’t holding an initiate helped hold them down, while they all had a tooth pulled and thrown into a blood-filled silver bowl. Each made a ping as it joined the pile. Adrian threw his forearm back, hitting his captor in the balls and took his chance to run. The front door was heavily guarded, trapped he ran down the corridor and heard the heavy trots of Sebastian hot on his tail, but Adrian was fast. He made it into the bathroom and locked the door. Sebastian fisted at the wood and rattled the doorknob, Adrian backed further into the room and started towards the window, his heart leapt with the thought of freedom, till he saw the padlock and bars on the outside.

“You hide you die, you run you die you little shit. Come out when you’re ready to be a man.” Sebastian wailed through the door and plodded off. Adrian climbed in the tub; his hands unable to get rid of the shake that had taken them. He pulled his phone out and called his Dad to rescue him, he was done with this. The phone rang and rang but there was no response, he would find out later that his Dad watched it till the call dropped off but was forbidden to answer. With his head between his knees, he rocked back and forth, a memory of his Dad on his sixteenth birthday came to mind.

‘You just have to remember one simple thing in life son. If you hide you die; if you run you die. You have to be a man and face the music. It’s the only way.’ He’d almost forgotten the memory till he heard the brothers say it. His Dad knew this would happen.

The lights in the toilet went out, a strange buzz took over from the one generated by the lightbulb. The air was thick, and he was sure eyes were on him. His phone read the time, 11.55pm, before the full battery suddenly drained and died. A chill crept down his spine as the temperature dropped, the screams from the rest of the house began to fade away and all that was left were his ragged intakes of air. The moonlight bled in through the window and left a shadow of the bars, a quick flash ran across the light, catching Adrian’s attention. As he wondered if they would try and get in from outside he kept his eyes on the floor and counted the row of bars in the shadow, on his third time round the middle bar flickered, he stole a glance to the window but saw nothing. When he looked back the shadow was different, the middle bar thicker than the others, in one swift move the top of it fanned out and made a hand. The shadow grew along the floor towards the bathtub and swept over the porcelain, Adrian held his breath, afraid to breath. As it was about to reach him, a thud came to the door sending Adrian back against the wall, hard.

“Adrian, you have five minutes to decide your fate. I’ll give you this one chance to come out and face the music.” Jared’s voice filled the bathroom, and almost matched his father’s warning, word for word. Adrian continued to rock in the bathtub, taking a chance he looked at the floor, the hand was gone and the bars once again in their place. With his hands fisted at his head, he knew he was out of options.

“Ok, ok. I’m coming out.” He yelled, his voice hoarse from his dry mouth. He stepped from the tub; and his legs almost gave way. When he opened the door, Jared was stood with a candle in his grasp and the pliers in his hand.

“You gonna let me take one or do I have to get someone to hold you down?” Jared asked. The pliers dripped with the previous initiates blood, thirsty for its next victim.

“Just be quick about it.”

Adrian held up his top lip and closed his eyes. Before he knew it one of his front canines was being thrown in the bowl and tears sprung to his eyes like his nose was broken. Jared walked back to the front room, Adrian followed behind and saw the other initiates either crying in a ball on the floor or holding their mouths to mourn what they had lost.

“Now, we drink.” Jared called in celebration. Silver chalices were handed out, each filled with red wine. “Drink!” They’d already lost a tooth, what else could he do to them. All the boys drank the wine. “When we wake, we will see who he has chosen.”

Adrian wanted to question the situation, but his eyes already began to fade in and out, till he was flat on the floor. All the brothers in the house were scattered around the room like debris from an explosion as they fell. Jared made it to his throne, a tall red armchair with mahogany arms, before he joined them in their deep sleep.

~

The boys all woke to the horrid loud sounds of Sebastian and Marc banging wooden spoons against pans. Adrian’s face was glued to the floor by his saliva, the room was still dark, but an older brother began to open the blinds and let the light flood in.

“What the hell?” Chad chirped next to him, with a finger in his mouth, he felt the tooth that had been pulled not hours before. “My tooth, it’s still there…”

“Mine too…” George piped up as he ran his tongue along the tooth inside his mouth.

Adrian’s face still felt bruised and swollen from the extraction, and his suspicion was confirmed as he ran his tongue along the empty gum. He kept his mouth shut and waited to hear from everyone else.

“Brothers, you have proven yourselves worthy, to him and to us. He has chosen from the offerings, whoever is still missing their tooth, now belongs to him.” Jared told the room.

Adrian looked around, his wide eyes surveyed the others to see if anyone else was still missing theirs. He was the only one. His stunned gaze met Jared’s eyes, a look he was obviously familiar with.

“Brother Adrian has been chosen, he will be pampered and given whatever he wishes. For these are his last twenty-four hours on this earth.” Jared exclaimed.

The boys around him backed away like he was a leper and could somehow infect them. Adrian was saved by the bell as his phone went off, he dragged it from his pocket to see his dads caller ID and walked out of the house.

“Dad, I don’t know what happened…”

“You were picked.” His dad cut him off before he could continue.

“You knew.” Adrian said, frozen to the spot.

“Adrian, were you picked?!” His dad yelled down the speaker.

“Yes. Why would you let me come here?” He cried down the phone through gritted teeth.

“I didn’t have a choice…” He went silent, a lump in his throat. “Don’t worry son, we can get someone to take your place.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“It happened to me too…we have to offer another sacrifice…we have to give the demon another soul to take.” The words from his dads mouth were alien to his ears, and so many thoughts ran through his mind.

Had a demon really taken his tooth. But better yet; if it had, and his soul was to be taken, could Adrian sacrifice someone else in his place…




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