When a sorority initiation means sending a pledge down the town's most haunted road, a young college freshman may be in for more than just a sisterhood.
Kappa...Alpha...Theta...The giant Greek letters were the forefront of the mansion's stone exterior. Jez stood below them with hopeful eyes. She had been through the wringer the past two weeks of sorority recruitment, an endless blur of early mornings, chanting, spunky girls jumping around, and lots and lots of girl flirting. Jez couldn't remember a time when her cheeks had been so sore from smiling. Her voice was almost gone, she was coming down with a cold, and her feet were killing her from standing for hours, but it had all been worth it. She had made it to the final stage of recruitment, initiation. KAT wanted her, they gave her a bid, all she had to do was play along with whatever their secret ceremony was and she'd be in. This is the start of my college experience, she thought, This is going to be my legacy.
"Are you new bid, too?" a high-pitched, excited voice came from behind. Jez turned to see a big smile beaming back at her. "Yea, yea I am. I'm Jezabelle, Jez for short," replied Jez sticking out a hand. The girl shook it aggressively, "I'm Sammy! I'm so excited! Can you believe it!? This was my number one pick!" Jez pried her hand free of the girl's grasp, "Yea, me too. It's what I've been dreaming of since high school." Jez couldn't help but compare herself to her new "sister". They were both blonde, relatively tall, blue eyed and thin. Sammy was shorter than she was though, and a little fuller in the face, not intimidating like some of the other girls in the sorority. Perhaps she could be a friend.
The cool evening breeze sent a chill through Jez's body. "It's getting chilly out here, should we go in?" she asked. Sammy nodded and took in a deep breath, "Let's go!" The two climbed the steps of the mansion lined with pink and white balloons. Music was blaring inside, and Jez could feel the porch vibrating beneath her. She barley had time to ring the bell when the giant, oak door swung open, revealing a swarm of some of the prettiest girls Jez had ever seen. They grabbed both Jez and Sammy and pulled them into the chaos. The scene in the house was overwhelming to say the least. Girls dressed in matching t-shirts with were jumping around, clapping and singing the sorority's chant. Their hair was pulled up in ponytails, which looked like a sea of pompoms bouncing around. Pink and white balloons and streamers hung from the ceiling, and confetti was being thrown from all directions. Jez and Sammy were pushed toward the middle of the living room, where a group of about 15 other girls were all sitting on the floor. Jez examined their faces. Some were smiling and laughing, while others were very clearly in shock. Jez tried to stay smiley so she wouldn't come across as nervous. A few minutes passed and five more girls entered the mansion and were hustled to the group of pledges in the middle of the room.
After the last pledge sat down, a pretty black-haired girl with almond shaped, brown eyes emerged from the cluster of chanting sisters. "Hellooooo!" She screamed. The room became silent as she spoke, "Welcome to Kappa Alpha Theta!" The room exploded with cheers. The girl continued, "My name's Stacy, I'm a senior and this year's President!" More cheers and hollers. "Congrats on making it this far," Stacy continued, her tone becoming more serious, "but it's not over yet. You bitches still need to prove you're Kappa material!" The room's atmosphere became uneasy. "Tomorrow morning, you will either be one of us, and therefore our sister, or...you won't," Stacy said in an overly sympathetic voice. "You pledges will be divided into five groups of four. Each group will have 3 senior sisters to guide you on your tasks. These tasks will determine if you are in or out. All you have to do, is complete them ," explained Stacy, "So, let me introduce you to this year's social chair, McKenzie!" A tall redheaded girl stepped out from the crowd and waved, "Hey ladies! I'm McKenzie, and we are gonna have ourselves a time. Aren't we girls?" The rest of the sorority cheered and clapped in response. "I will now announce the groups! Group 1, you will be with Aniya. Group 2, you will be with Trish. Group 3, you're with Emily. Group 4 you're with Amelia, and Group 5 is with Shay." The 5 seniors all stepped forward with their name tags displayed visibly on their chests. "I will now assign you all a number. When you get your number, please go and stand by your senior guide," McKenzie explained as she walked toward the group of pledges. One by one she placed her hand on the pledge's head and called out a number. The pledges began to stand up and walk over to their assigned senior. By the time McKenzie was standing over Jez, her heart was pounding so fast she worried the other girls could hear it. "5", said McKenzie with a smirk.
Jez stood up slowly and walked over to Group 5 with Shay. Jez couldn't help but stare in awe at Shay's beauty. She had long blonde hair, pulled up in a high pony which emphasized her high cheekbones and bright, ice-blue eyes. Her pink, full lips separated into a smile, "Welcome to group 5, bitch!" she said, giving Jez a playful slap on the arm. Jez just smiled and joined the other three pledges behind her. Once the last pledge had been assigned to their group, McKenzie gave the room one last piece of advice, "Alright girls, you're all in your groups for the night. Trust your senior sister and above all, try to have fun...but don't forget this is serious. Anddddd...GO!"
The room quickly began to disperse. Jez followed Shay through the hallways of the mansion. The walls were lined with photos of pledge classes and sisters from years past. The oldest she remembered seeing was from the 1940's. Did they have to do the same initiation back then? The group finally made it to the back door of the house, which opened out onto a large patio. Shay had all four of the pledges sit in some chairs that had already been lined up in preparation. "Hi girls, I'm Shay, as you know. This is Jordan and Kayla, " she motioned to the two other sisters who would be accompanying the group, "Let me start off by saying, congratulations for not only making it this far, but for making it to Group 5!" The pledges looked at one another, realizing that the groups had been pre-determined. Shay continued, "Group 5 means that you were deemed 'exceptional' by our recruitment team. With this distinction, comes even more to prove. You are in the toughest group, but if you make it through tonight, you are ledership material in Kappa Alpha Theta." Jez couldn't believe it. They really thought that she was Group 5 material, but could she live up to their expectations? Shay spoke again, "Kayla, blindfold them." Kayla, a shorter girl with curly brown hair stepped forward holding thin, black ribbons. She then proceeded to tie each one over the eyes of the pledges. Jez could feel the soft silk press against her eye lids, and the tug of a bow being pulled tight behind her head. She couldn't see a thing.
"I know you're all a little scared, but don't be. You're perfectly safe," assured Shay, "Now, the fun begins!" Jez felt the rough hands of a man grasp each of her arms and pull her up from her chair. "A few of our fraternity friends volunteered to help out tonight. They're going to guide you to the car," Shay said as Jez and the other pledges were pushed toward a vehicle. Jez could hear chuckles and sneers coming from the guys, and felt herself blush. "Yo, mine's hot!" called out a deep, masculine voice. The other frat boys laughed and agreed. "Hey! Behave guys, this is serious!" scolded Shay. After what seemed like an endless walk, Jez heard a van door slide open. She was helped inside and felts someone reach across her and buckle her seat belt, "Safety first," a guy's voice said jokingly. The door was slammed shut and then the rumble of the engine. "Hold on ladies!" another man's voice said sarcastically. Jez felt uneasy, but if dealing with this meant getting in to her dream sorority, she'd do it. Besides, how bad could the challenge be?
The car ride felt like hours, even though Jez knew it could only have been about 15 minutes. The van's engine came to a stop, and she could hear the driver and passenger side doors open. Suddenly, she was being pulled from the car and made to stand against the side of the vehicle with her back to it. Shay's voice came from a few feet away, "Ok girls, take off your blind folds!" Jez hesitantly reached up and began to fumble with the ribbon covering her eyes. When she removed the blindfold, she opened her eyes to see the three sorority sisters and four fraternity guys standing infront of them. Behind them was a familiar, yet unwelcome site. They were standing in front of the menacing, iron gate of Dogwood Drive.
The other pledges didn't understand where they were, Jez knew it. She had grown up in this town, and Dogwood Drive was not somewhere people hung out, it was a place people avoided. "Who knows where we are?" Shay asked. Jez could feel her heart rate rise in the silence followed. "Nobody?" Shay asked again. Jez felt her arm rise. "Yes, uh, Jezabelle, right?" Shay asked. Jez nodded, "Yea, well, Jez. Just call me Jez. Um, this is Dogwood Drive." Shay looked surprised, "Wow, you must be a towny?" Jez nodded. "Well," Shay started, "Since we got a towny here, why don't you tell us about Dogwood Drive." Jez bit her lip nervously as a rush of fear flooded her body. "It's supposedly haunted," she said vaguely. "Well, yea! But WHY is it haunted? Tell us what happened, Jez," probed Shay. Jez took in a deep breath, "Six people were killed on that road...and then they were brought to the old house at the end of the drive..." she felt herself trail off. "Andddd?" Shay asked, puling for more information. Jez sighed and looked at the other pledges who were wide-eyed in fear, "They, uh...they were all hung up. The bodies. They were hung from the cieling. They weren't found for a week. It was like 50 years ago." No one moved as Jez's words sunk in. "So why are we here?" asked one of the other pledges. "I'm glad you asked!" replied Shay, spinning on her heels to face the trail, "You are each going to walk to the end of Dogwood Drive, enter the house, and take a selfie inside!"
A terrible silence followed Shay's words. Jez looked to her left and right at the other pledges. Their faces were pale, drained of any enthusiasm or excitement. She assumed she looked the same. She knew that people had seen things on that road, heard things. Every legend and story she had ever heard about Dogwood came pouring into her head. One girl from her highschool had been dared to venture down there, and when she came back she was never the same. Instead of attending college now, she was in a mental facility. Could that be me? Jez thought to herself. Would she come back the same person if she went down the road? Don't be stupid, Jez! It's just a road. It's just a house. You can do it! She told herself, clentching her fists tight by her side. All she had to do was make it through this task and she was in her dream sorority, and for that, she'd do anything.
"So who's first?" Called Shay, breaking the silence. The pledges looked at eachother with desperate eyes. Jez didn't want to go first at all, but she couldn't help but feel that if she did, she might get some sort of special recognition for having the guts to volunteer. Before she could overthink it, her hand shot up in the air, "I'll do it!" Shay began to clap, "Bravo! You're brave, Jez." The frat boys chimed in, "Damn, she got balls!" "Hope you don't die, baby!" "Say hi to the ghosts for me will ya?" They jeered. Jez tried to keep a calm demeanor, even though internally she was a wreck. She felt her feet begin to move forward, and just like that, the task had begun. Jordan and Kayla pulled open the heavy iron gate which blocked the entrance. The chain lock had been cut years ago by some teenagers and no one had bothered to repair it. Shay and the fraternity guys stepped back, allowing Jez to pass. Ahead of her was a long, stretch of gravel surrounded by tall, crooked trees with limbs outstretched like claws. The woods were carpeted by a thick layer of mist, which crept over the gravel path ahead, making visibility only a couple of yards. Jez felt her legs begin to shake, and hoped the others behind her wouldn't see. After a few steps onto the road, she heard the creaking of the gate, and turned to see them closing it behind her.
"It's just to keep the ghosts from getting out!" joked Shay, "Keep going!" Jez could hear the chuckling of the fraternity boys and the whispers from the girls. She took in a deep breath, and exhaled her nerves as she mustered the courage to take another step. It's just a road...It's just a road, Jez told herself over and over. With every step, the voices of the others became more and more distant, until she couldn't hear them at all. Eventually, she couldn't even see the tall, black outline of the gate where she entered, just trees, fog, and darkness. Jez pulled out her cell phone, no reception. Great, she thought, I really am on my own. She then turned on the flashlight setting, giving her a little more light, At least this thing is still good for something, she thought.
As Jez walked, she wondered why there seemed to be no wildlife. She hadn't seen a squirrel or any other creature scurry by, and there were no sounds of birds in the trees. Jez would've felt less alone had she heard a bird chirp or even an owl call, but there was nothing. The only noise she detected was the soft swaying of the tree branches and the gravel being crushed beneath her feet. As a way of comforting herself, Jez began to hum a familiar tune, quietly. The humming helped a little to ease her uneasiness for a bit. It's not so bad, she reassured herself, it's not so...Her thought was cut short when she heard the same tune she was humming come from somewhere else.
Her feet stopped the second she heard it, and she felt her stomach drop. Did I really hear that? She asked herself. Jez slowly turned around, expecting to see a menacing figure staring back at her, but there was nothing. "Hello!?" she called into the emptiness. No response. Jez concluded that it had been her nerves, and that she had imagined hearing the tune. With a deep breath, Jez continued. She didn't dare hum again, just in case her imagination decided to play more tricks.
The night seemed to be growing colder, and Jez began to shiver as she walked. It was only September, but the temperature felt like a late fall night. She pulled her cardigan around her tighter, wishing she had dressed warmer, but then again, she didn't know she would be doing something like this. She thought about how she just needed to reach the house and take a selfie, and then she could go back to her warm dorm room and bundle up in her pajamas and blankets. She smiled at the thought. She would make it through, she told herself, she would make it through. Jez decided to use her surroundings as motivation. She would locate the farthest tree she could see, and make it to that tree. Then she would do it again, and again, until she reached the house. Short goals. That's how she'd make it there. Her idea was working well, and she knew she couldn't be too far from the house. She selected a stump as her next goal about twenty feet away. It was difficult to see because of all the mist and darkness, but she could just make it out. Another step, then another. She drew closer and closer to the stump, until she could almost touch it if she wanted to. But the closer she got, the more a cold, ominous feeling welled up inside her. As she neared her target, she realized that the stump was not a stump at all. It was a woman, crouched on the ground with her back to Jez.
The woman was sickly thin, her skin so pale that Jez could see the blue and purple veins running down her back. The dress she was wearing was an old, vintage looking black dress with tears in some parts. Her black hair was draped down over her face like a veil, and her arms were wrapped tightly around her legs. Jez could hear the woman whispering to herself quietly. With a shaky voice, Jez tried to speak to her, "He-hello? Ma'am? Are you OK?" The woman didn't seem to acknowledge Jez's words. She just kept whispering something over and over again to herself. "What? I can't hear you!" Jez said a little louder. Jez took in a breath and slowly reached her arm out toward the woman's pale, bony back, "Ma'am, I...I just want to help. What are you saying?" Just as Jez was about to touch her, the woman spun around, sending Jez flying backwards in surprise. The woman's face was still partially covered by her messy, stragly black hair, but Jez could see thin trickles of blood running down her forehead and cheeks. The woman's eyes were entirely black and cold. Her mouth, which was a dark blueish color, hung slightly open. Jez couldn't breath. She was frozen with the most terror she had ever experienced. The woman in front of her began to slowy rise from her crouched position, her bones making distorted crackling noises. She stood in an unnatural, bent over, twisted sort of way like she was in pain. Her voice was gurgly and corse, "Hatchet" she muttered quietly. Then, with a sudden surge of anger she screamed, "HATCHET!", running full speed toward Jez.
Jez closed her eyes tightly and raised her arms in defense, waiting for the impact, but it never came. Jez stood there, shaking violently for a few seconds before cautiously opening her eyes. The woman was gone. There was no one there but her. Jez sunk to the gound, and began to sob. She had never been so afraid, and couldn't begin to make sense of what she had just seen. She felt stuck, like she couldn't go back and couldn't move forward. If she went back now, she would fail the challenge and lose her spot as a KAT sister. If she continued, she feared she would run in to the creature she had just encountered again. Jez fumbled for her cell phone, which she had dropped. The screen was cracked, but the flashlight was still working. She held it up at the road ahead, and could just barely make out the outline of a structure. It was the house.
Jez estimated that she was only about 30 feet from the front porch. She knew she couldn't go back after coming so close to completing the task. She pulled her shaken body up off the ground and composed herself. "You can do this, Jez!" With a few deep breaths, she finally took off sprinting in the direction of the house. The closer she got, the more she could see the details of the place. The front porch was starting to cave in from years of neglect. Most of the windows had been shattered either by looters or storms, and the wooden exterioir of the home was covered in moss. She paused before entering, taking one more second to think about her choice. Then, with a pounding heart, Jez stepped on to the front porch.
Every step created a horrible creaking noise that sent chills down Jez's spine. It was as if she were waking up the old house, and it was warning her to turn back. She neared the front door, which was already partially broken down. With a forceful nudge, the wooden door slid forward, creating a scratching sound along the floor inside. The smell of decay was potent, and Jez couldn't help but pull her shirt up over her mouth and nose to try and block it out. She moved the cell phone light from side to side, trying to illuminate the room. She could see the dilapitated staircase, a few broken paintings lying on the floor, and an old grandfather clock leaning against the wall. The wallpaper, a dark green color with some kind of floral print, was peeling off the walls like sunburnt skin. Jez stepped in to the middle of the room and flipped her phone's camera to take the selfie. In the cracked screen she could see herself, visibly shaken and disheveled. They never said I had to look good, she thought to herself. With a click, the flash went off and the selfie was captured. A sense of relief flooded through Jez's body. The hard part was done. "Let's check and make sure you can tell where I am," she said to herself as she checked her phone for the image. When she pulled up the selfie, her blood ran cold. Behind her in the background of the photo, were the feet of six people hanging from the ceiling.
Jez wasn't paralyzed with fear this time. She took off. Out the door, down the porch steps and back onto the road. It was like her feet were on auto as she sprinted, kicking gravel up behind her. She could feel the tears streaming down her face as the night breeze hit her cheeks. The only thought that ran through her mind was getting back to the others and leaving this place behind. Screw the sorority, screw the task, she was running for her life.
A fallen tree limb sent Jez tumbling to the ground, the gravel digging into her skin. She got up as fast as she could, not assessing her injuries. Jez could feel her jeans getting wet with the blood from her cuts, but still she didn't stop. Just get there, she kept telling herself. The site of the feet hanging behind her in the picture kept flashing in her mind like a movie reel. Everything she had heard about the road and the rumors about its haunted past were true. She had experienced it first hand, and for what? Why had she done it? The sorority seemed like a joke to her now as she ran for her life. Jez's mind was so clouded that she didn't notice the tall, iron gate until she smacked into it.
"Let me out! Let me out!" she screamed as she tugged on the gate door. The fraternity guys on the other side laughed as they pulled the gate door open, letting Jez fall forward and onto the pavement. She stayed there on all fours, panting heavily and shaking. The laughter stopped when they saw the state she was in. "Bro...," started one of the guys, "you look f*cked up." Jez felt a hand touch her shoulder, "So where's the pic?" It was Shay, standing over her with her hand out, "Come on, scaredy-cat! Show us the proof!" Jez just looked at her with disgust. She was tired, bleeding, and all Shay could do was ask for the selfie. Jez realized in that moment that she had dropped her phone when she saw the photo back in the house. She began to laugh uncontrollably.
The others were silent for a few seconds before one of the guys whispered, "Dude, she's crazy." Jez kept laughing, leaning back onto her heels, "I...I dropped the phone," she got out through her laughter. "You dropped your phone?" Shay asked in disbelief, "You had one job, and you dropped your phone?! You actually expect us to believe that?" Jez shook her head, "I don't expect you to believe any of it...and I don't give a f*ck." She then stood up and walked over to the other pledges, her tone becoming suddenly serious, "Don't. Go. In." The three pledges looked back at her in shock. "Just because you messed up the task, doesn't mean they will!" Shay said crossing her arms, "You're not Kappa material, Jez." Jez didn't acknowlege Shay's words. Instead, she just started walking back toward campus. "You're seriously walking back?!" Shouted Shay. "Yup!" replied Jez as she left the group behind. She could hear Shay telling they next girl it was their turn, and Jez hoped she'd have the common sense to say no, but she wasn't hanging around to find out.
The next morning, Jez woke up to feel her roommate shaking her aggressively, "Jez! Jez! Your mom's on the phone, she's freaking out!" Jez took her roommates phone still in a daze, "Mom?" she asked. "Jezabelle?! Oh thank God! Jezabelle I thought you were dead! Why didn't you answer my calls!?" her mother cried hysterically. "Uh, my phone is broken mom, I need to get a new one. Wait, why would you think I was dead? I don't answer calls all the time, " she replied rubbing her tired eyes. "You didn't hear?" her mother asked in a somber tone. Jez's anxiety began to rise, "Hear what?" Her mother hesitated. "Hear what, mom?!" Jez demanded. "That sorority you told me you were interested in, there was some initiation last night. A group of girls and a few fraternity boys were near that Dogwood Drive...their car flipped over late last night. They all died, Jez."