By the time Lisa and Kathleen were finished in the shower, the medical examiners were wrapping up their evaluations of Cherine and Bernadette. Both young women were in good heath, although the lead member of the examination team noted that Bernadette probably should have her vision checked because she had missed some letters while reading the bottom line of an eye chart. Both young women were sweaty from running on the treadmill and a bit disconcerted by the gynecological examination. However, they both obediently allowed themselves to be taken to the shower, cuffed, and washed off. Later in the evening Lisa was a bit surprised to learn that, like herself, Bernadette had been given an orgasm by the shower attendants. Cherine was still a long way off from being able to surrender herself to such pleasure, but Lisa hoped that soon she would be heading in that direction.
Lisa and Kathleen waited on their knees while Cherine and Bernadette finished up in the shower and toweled off. Once reunited the four women went to the back patio of the Tri-Alpha house where a late lunch of fruit salads and tossed salads was waiting for them. To drink they had the choice of mineral water with ice or orange juice. Lisa was amazed at the effort that went into preparing their meal: the juice was freshly squeezed and the fruit salads boasted 12 different types of fruit. By the time they sat down the four women were famished and gratefully dug into their meals.
After eating lunch inside with the Tri-Alphas Tracy and Heather returned to the patio loudly snapping their fingers. That was the pledges' cue that they needed to stand up from the table and line up for the next task of the day, their ID photos.
"You're in charge of clean-up! Stack up the dishes and take them to the kitchen! Make sure the table's clean and the chairs are put back! Once you're done get your ass to the sitting room! You got five minutes!"
While Bernadette rushed to clear the dishes from the table, Heather and Tracy led the other pledges back to the sitting room. While they were absent the medical items had been taken out and put away, to be replaced with photographic equipment, lighting, and a simple white backdrop. Large blue letters stenciled on the canvas conveyed a rather ominous message:
Property of the Four-Beta Sorority
Lisa had another rude shock awaiting her. It turned out the photographer was someone she knew, an art major called Suzanne Foster. Suzanne was not exactly a friend. She still was more of an acquaintance, but both were mutual friends of Cecilia Sanchez and Lisa's boyfriend Ken. Lisa had previously posed for Suzanne and had talked with her at various events they had attended together the previous spring, so the two women did know each other fairly well. For some reason Lisa was mortified at the thought of letting Suzanne see her like this, not as a possible friend, but as nothing more than a naked and submissive pledge.
Suzanne glanced at the four kneeling women, the four subjects of her current assignment. It was obvious that she recognized Lisa as part of the pledge group, but did not acknowledge that Lisa was anything more to her other than a photographic subject.
Bernadette came in from the kitchen and quickly took her place beside her three companions. A minute or so later, Tracy, acting very much like a drill sergeant, stood at attention in front of the pledges.
"Pledges! Stand up!"
The pledges scrambled to their feet, but clumsily and with no coordination.
"Absolutely pathetic! Let's try it again! Kneel!"
The pledges sank back to their knees.
"Pledges! Stand up!"
Again the four women rose to their feet. They were more mindful of rising together, but still their performance did not satisfy Tracy.
"Let's try it again! Kneel!"
The pledges sank back to their knees a third time.
"Pledges! Stand up!"
The pledges rose and returned to their knees three more times. The seventh time the pledges were standing at attention Tracy got in Lisa's face.
"Pledge Lisa, are you trying to piss me off?"
"Then what's with this shit performance of yours? What's wrong with you, can't you follow a simple order?"
"We're trying, ma'am!"
"'We', Pledge Lisa? What's with this 'we' bullshit? Maybe it's not 'we', maybe the problem is YOU!" Again Tracy poked her finger into Lisa's chest.
Lisa resisted the urge to slam her fist into Tracy's mouth, because she fully understood what was going on. Tracy did not bear any particular ill will against her, but wanted to test her by putting her into an impossible situation. Her mentor must have somehow learned that she knew the photographer and was deliberately hazing her in front of Suzanne to embarrass her and see how she would react.
"If the problem is me, ma'am, then go after me! Take it out on me and quit messing with the other pledges!"
"Oh how sweet! We have a little martyr don't we?"
Again Lisa felt the sharp poke of Tracy's fingernail in her chest. She tensed up at being poked for the third time and clenched her fists. She wanted so badly to nail that bitch right in the face. She thought about the chances of her winning a fight with Tracy. She calculated that she and the other woman were evenly matched, but that she would have the advantage of landing the first punch...
No. No. Don't screw this up, Lisa. Think about the others. Think about the others...
Lisa began breathing with tension. Tracy picked up on that and pressed her advantage.
"It doesn't work like that, Pledge! If you fuck up, Pledge, all of you fuck up, and they're paying for YOUR fuck-up! They're paying for it, and it's all YOUR fault! All of you... front leaning rest position, NOW!"
The four pledges dropped to their hands and toes as Tracy’s voice snarled, "In cadence, exercise! ONE... TWO... THREE..."
"ONE... TWO... THREE..."
"ONE... TWO... THREE..."
"ONE... TWO... THREE..."
At the count of twenty, the four pledges were gasping for breath. The soreness from Lisa's first set of pushups returned in force, while Cherine and Bernadette struggled from not being used to exercising. The only member of the group who managed to hold up was Kathleen. The four sweaty, trembling pledges made a sorry sight as they struggled to stay in position.
Tracy ordered the pledges to recover. She walked up to Cherine and yelled in her face.
"Pledge Cherine, doesn't it piss you off that Pledge Lisa fucked up and got you in trouble?"
"What? It doesn't piss you off that Pledge Lisa was the one who fucked up your afternoon?"
"Ma'am! Pledge Lisa didn't fuck up!"
"Well, isn't that special, Pledge Cherine! So now you're calling me a liar! How dare you..."
"You're not telling the truth ma'am! Pledge Lisa didn't fuck up! Liar is your word, not mine, ma'am!"
Tracy was quite taken aback by Cherine's comment, but at the same time very pleased. It turned out this group had some real backbone, which was made quite clear by the pledges' willingness to stand up to her and stick up for each other. This was going to be a good group...
Heather realized that she needed to come to Tracy's aid by changing the subject.
"Alright you four! Picture time! Let's go!"
Suzanne had two cameras set up; one to take facial shots and the other to take full-body shots. It was strange to think that at the same time the day before the only person willing to pose naked would have been Lisa. However, the other three women now were becoming more used to being naked, after having spent the last five hours with nothing on and having had their bodies seen and touched by both men and other women. There was no hint of modesty as each of them posed for the sorority's ID portraits.
Each pledge had to pose for a total of 30 pictures. The session began with eight standing shots, starting with the subject facing the camera and then turning 45 degrees for each succeeding shot in the series. There were additional shots of each pledge kneeling, sitting, standing with her legs spread and hands behind her head, and finally facial portraits taken from different angles. Suzanne was using high-quality film and carefully took each picture so the resolution would be perfectly clear. There was no question that anyone looking at the pictures would have a very thorough idea of what each of the four women looked like at that point in their lives.
Lisa was the final member of the group to pose. She felt oddly proud of herself and her pledge group, her earlier embarrassment having vanished. Her eyes shined with a very clear message to the photographer: yes, Suzanne, take my picture. This is who I am and who I want to become, and I have nothing to be ashamed of.
Following the picture taking session the pledges went out into the Tri-Alpha back yard for their first session of physical training. The pledges lined up in the shade of the back patio while the two Tri-Alpha shower attendants carrying bottles of sunscreen joined Tracy and Heather. The guys put the strongest sun-block on Bernadette, whose fair skin would be very susceptible to sunburn, and a much weaker sun-block on Lisa's shoulders and upper back. Kathleen presented a special challenge because of her tan-lines. The Tri-Alphas carefully put the strongest sun-block on the parts of Kathleen that were already tanned, but left her breasts, the white stripe across her back, and the triangular mark on her bottom uncovered. Those areas would have to get as much sun as possible over the next few days to bring her body into compliance with the Four-Beta rules forbidding members to have tan-lines on their skin.
Heather stripped off her own clothing, put her shoes back on, and stepped out into the grass. She was quite muscular and boasted a dark, even tan. It was clear that she was perfectly comfortable with her body. She stood naked in the hot sun, completely unconcerned about the Tri-Alphas who had stepped outside to watch the new pledges' first exercise session.
"Alright, everyone, grab a mat and we'll get started."
Once the four pledges had their mats on the ground and were sitting on them, Heather continued, "I'm sure that you have learned stretches in your gym classes and whatnot, but as of now, you're gonna forget about all that. You will follow me and use my system of stretching. If you don't like what I'm doing then you can talk to me after class. But when you’re here, I'm boss and you will obey, or you can expect a nice sore ass when where done. Any questions?"
Lisa was surprised by how thoroughly Heather wanted the pledges to stretch. She incorporated some yoga positions into her stretching and relied heavily on breathing and gradual extension of the body's tissues. The four pledges were astounded by how long their instructor wanted to spend stretching and how good their bodies felt when they were finished.
Lisa realized that no detail was lost on Heather and Tracy when it came to forcing the pledges to do things that would force them to get rid of their modesty. When the women were stretching, Heather made sure they were positioned so their crotches always faced the direction of the afternoon sun. Lisa was used to sunning herself, but to her three companions the feeling of bright sunshine between their legs was something totally new and strange.
From stretching Heather moved to a long series of military-style variations of push-ups, leg bending exercises, and sit-ups. She slowly built up the intensity of the workout, but by the end of a very rigorous hour her four pledges were exhausted and impressed at how many repetitions they had managed to perform on the very first day of their new exercise regimen. The sun continued to shine hot on the pledges' bodies as they wound down their session with yet more lengthy stretching and breathing exercises.
Although it was not in the schedule, Heather and Tracy decided to reward the pledges with some time in the pool before having them get cleaned up for their swearing-in ceremony. The truth was that Heather and Tracy were the ones who really wanted to swim, but also wanted to use the swimming session to get the pledges to relax and put them into a better mood.
Lisa was quite used to swimming naked, never bothering to wear a swimsuit when using the pool at her father's house in Reno. She also had spent plenty of time at the nude beaches near her mother's house in Santa Cruz, so the swim in the Tri-Alpha pool was nothing new to her. However, none of her three companions had ever swum nude before, and certainly not in a pool used mostly by guys. The feel of the cool water against their bare skin after the hot exercise session was something totally new and exhilarating for Cherine, Bernadette, and Kathleen.
Heather and Tracy did not bother to get dressed as they led the four pledges to the shower room. The pledges entered the room a second time, where the two nude shower attendants were waiting for them. Meanwhile, Heather and Tracy, because they were not pledges, left to shower in private bathrooms upstairs and get dressed.
The rule about the pledge shower was inflexible. Any pledge who needed to clean up had to have her wrists restrained and be bathed by the shower attendants. Lisa went first, but still was not in the mood for another orgasm. Somehow the shower attendants picked up on her mood and did not make any effort to arouse her when cleaning her breasts and the sensitive area between her legs.
Bernadette was a totally different story. As the attendants lathered the upper part of her body the young woman’s gestures and posture indicated that she was getting aroused. The attendants began sensuously massaging her back and stomach as they slowly worked their way to her bottom and crotch. Bernadette, with her eyes closed and her body covered with lather, completely forgot that her fellow pledges were watching. For several minutes the attendants’ soapy hands teased her and worked her up into a sexual frenzy. It was clear when she was climaxing, because her moans and gasps were quite loud.
Lisa glanced over at Cherine. She felt that she could tell what was going on in Cherine’s mind: that her companion was secretly fantasizing about trading places with Bernadette, but was not quite ready to do it for real. Hopefully her reluctance would change within a couple of days. Cherine was still terrified by what she had gotten herself into, but along with her fear she now felt some excitement and anticipation. She knew that a huge adventure was about to open up to her, just as soon as she could overcome her shyness and modesty. She was still very scared, but there no longer was any immediate danger that she wanted to drop out of the pledge group.
Lisa’s thoughts shifted to the two shower attendants. It was clear to her that they were enjoying what they were doing and were that intimately touching Bernadette had made them quite aroused themselves. However, their job was to bathe the pledges and give orgasms to the ones who needed to be relieved from their sexual tension. They were not there to satisfy themselves, but instead just to wash and satisfy each pledge. In spite of being nude in a shower with an equally naked and sexually aroused young woman, the two attendants exercised remarkable self-control.
Lisa later learned why the two shower attendants seemed so disinterested in the pledges and treated them with professional detachment. The two men were the personal assistants of the chapter president of the sorority. Although they were Tri-Alpha members, they answered directly to her, not to the fraternity officers. Being selected as a personal assistant of the Four-Beta president was considered an honor among the Tri-Alphas and carried with it some huge perks as well as some huge responsibilities. The sorority president chose her own assistants at the beginning of each school year, and only the most respected and trustworthy members of the fraternity could expect to be eligible for such duty. Because the attendants regularly made love to the chapter president and other Four-Beta officers, they considered the idea of trying to have sex with a pledge way beneath them. Bathing and stimulating pledges was considered an official duty for the two young men, not something that would lead to sexual intercourse or any type of relationship.
Bernadette was totally exhausted when the attendants finished with her and rinsed off the soap. She hung limply with a very relaxed expression until they dried her off, let her down, and washed her hands. A minute later she was quietly kneeling on her towel as the attendants cuffed Kathleen and began shampooing the chlorine out of her hair.
It was getting dark outside when Tracy and Heather returned to the pledge shower room wearing formal dresses. Heather was carrying a riding crop, which, combined with her severe-looking dress, gave her a truly intimidating appearance. The four pledges knelt yet again, ready to be escorted back to the Tri-Alpha ceremonial room. The most important event of the day still awaited them, the ceremony that would formally introduce them to the full membership of the fraternity and the sorority.
The four pledges and their two mentors quietly walked down the hallway to the Tri-Alpha ceremonial room. The room’s appearance had changed yet again. It was completely empty of people and the only furniture was single row of long benches set up on both sides of the room. Near the wall opposite the main door stood two empty podiums. One podium bore the Tri-Alpha coat of Arms and the other the coat of arms of the Four-Betas. The room was strangely lit with sinister dark orange lighting.
"OK, you four, on your knees, facing the podiums."
The pledges did as they were told and sank to their knees. Tracy gave them some instructions. "Pledges, Sergeant-at-Arms Heather is gonna be presenting you to the chapter president. You’ll stay kneeling until Sergeant-at-Arms Heather taps you with the riding crop. Once you get tapped, you’ll stand up and face the president. She’ll ask you for your name, you’ll give it to her, and then she will tell you to face the Four-Betas, who’ll be over there..." Tracy pointed at a row of benches. "You’ll face them, arms at your sides, ‘till you get tapped with the crop. Then you’ll turn around and face the Tri-Alphas. When she taps you again, you’ll face the president again and then kneel back down. Get it?"
Tracy then did something that surprised Lisa. She leaned down and put her mouth close to Lisa’s ear. She whispered very quietly so no one else could hear:
"Pledge Lisa, what’s coming up after you get presented is gonna be real rough on you guys. I need you to help me on this. When the moment comes I need you to volunteer to go first."
Lisa gave Tracy a very slight, quick nod to let her mentor know she could count on her.
The Tri-Alpha president, dressed in a tuxedo, and the Four-Beta president, wearing a formal evening dress, entered the room together and took their positions at the podiums. The Four-Beta president rang a hand-bell and the rest of the fraternity and sorority members filed into the room. The men and women quickly separated by sex and by class. The Tri-Alphas assembled on the right side of the room and the Four-Betas on the left side. The senior class sat on the benches, while the juniors sat on the floor in front and the sophomores stood in a row behind the seniors. There were over 80 people present, but their quick organization left the entire center part of the room empty. Everyone in the room was well dressed, the men in business suits and the women in dresses or business outfits.
The pledges looked around and exchanged nervous glances. Their large, well-dressed audience made them even more aware of their own nakedness. The fraternity and sorority’s philosophy had intended for the pledges to feel so vulnerable and exposed, because vulnerability was an important part of a person’s transformation during the pledge process. The pledge’s body and soul were stripped bare while his or her character was broken down and then put back together.
The Tri-Beta president again rang the hand-bell. The bell had the Four-Beta coat of arms engraved into the metal and looked like an antique. Lisa guessed that the bell must have been used in this ceremony for many years. That thought put her at ease, because she knew that whatever was about to happen to her and her companions had happened to everyone else in the room. If all of the upperclassmen could endure it, there was no reason why she and her three companions couldn’t endure it as well.
Upon setting down the bell, the sorority president got right down to business, "Sergeant-at-Arms Heather!"
"Yes, President Alexandra!"
"We understand that you have brought us four persons who wish to share our journey through life!"
"Very well, Sergeant-at-Arms! You will present them to us!"
Lisa felt the tap of the riding crop on her shoulder. She stood up, facing the podium and its elegant-looking occupant.
"What is your name, Pledge?"
"Very well, Pledge Lisa! Present yourself to the women of the Four-Beta Sorority!"
Lisa felt the tap of the crop on her arm, and turned to face the women. She stood quietly for fifteen seconds as about 40 well-dressed women studied her body and face.
"Pledge Lisa! Present yourself to the men of the Tri-Alpha Fraternity!"
Lisa again felt the tap of the riding crop and turned to face the men. She stood quietly while 40 young men studied her body and face.
"Pledge Lisa! Face the podium!"
Again Lisa felt the tap of the crop on her arm. She faced the podium. The president pointed at the floor and Lisa felt a final tap, indicating she needed to return to her knees.
One by one, Heather tapped the remaining three pledges and they presented themselves in the same formal manner. Lisa had no qualms whatsoever about being naked in public, so presenting herself to her 80 spectators had been no big deal. However, the others were very scared and embarrassed. The public presentation did not put them at ease at all. Lisa glanced at Cherine, who was trembling and sweating.
The president of the Tri-Alphas spoke next.
"Gentlemen of the Tri-Alphas and Ladies of the Four-Betas. You have the honor of having been introduced to four young women who have chosen to seek to join us. Each of you will guide them with both support and firmness to prepare them to join our community. President Alexandra and I will hold each of you accountable for making sure that these four young women are ready to join us at the end of this school term."
He turned to the four pledges and addressed them directly.
"The journey you are about to undertake is the same that each of the rest of us in this room has chosen to undertake. I look into your faces and see myself as I was three years ago: naked, kneeling, frightened, and thinking ‘what the hell have I gotten myself into?’ At least one of you is thinking about quitting, and if you choose to do so, we will not hold that against you. You are free to stand up and leave whenever you wish. Not everyone can make the journey into our circle, and we are determined that the people who join us are only the ones who truly want to join us. That is the purpose of the initiation process, and the reason why you will be subjected to very harsh treatment between now and the time we meet again in this room at the end of your initiation. Do you understand me?"
"Good. We will now subject you to your first test as pledges. Each of you who wishes to continue will receive two items from us. The first item will be the restraints that you will wear at formal Four-Beta functions and whenever you are disciplined for violating any rules pertaining to your status as a pledge. Please keep in mind that I’m saying ‘when’, not ‘if’. Don’t think that you can escape punishment, because that won’t happen. Every pledge faces discipline. Every person in this room was at some point restrained and punished as a pledge, President Alexandra and myself included. The second item you will receive tonight, according to our tradition, will be a temporary mark on your left shoulder. Accepting the restraints and the mark will indicate your seriousness in committing yourself to our community. Do you understand me?"
President Alexandra spoke next.
"We are not going to just give you the restraints and the mark on your shoulder. You’ll need to ask us for them."
Lisa realized that was her cue. The moment had come for her to volunteer to go first.
"Ma’am, Pledge Lisa requests permission to speak."
"Speak Pledge Lisa."
"Ma’am, I... I would be honored to wear the restraints and receive the mark... to... to continue my... commitment as a pledge."
"Pledge Lisa, you will stand-up."
As Lisa stood up a well-dressed member of the sorority walked up to Heather and handed her a black felt bag. Heather opened the bag and handed Tracy a black blindfold and a pair of handcuffs.
"Pledge Lisa, do you wish to continue your quest to become one of us?"
"Then you will accept this blindfold and these restraints. Until you are accepted as a full member of the Four-Beta Sorority, from this point forward you will wear them at all formal gatherings to demonstrate your acceptance of your status as a pledge. Do you understand and accept?"
"Yes, ma’am. I understand and accept."
You will wear the blindfold and restraints whenever any officer of the Tri-Alpha Fraternity or the Four-Beta Sorority tells you to do so, for whatever reason. You will understand that whenever you are required to wear these items, you completely forfeit your right to exercise free will. Do you understand and accept?"
"Yes, ma’am. I understand and accept."
"Very well, Pledge Lisa. Hold out your hands to accept the restraints."
With that Lisa held out her hands as Tracy laid the blindfold and handcuffs in her open palms. She left the items in the pledge’s hands exactly fifteen seconds, then took the blindfold and placed it over her eyes. Lisa felt cloth tighten slightly as Tracy knotted it behind her head. She felt the handcuffs leave her palms and the cold uncompromising metal wrap around her right wrist and click shut. Tracy took both of her hands and guided them behind her back. The metal closed around Lisa’s left wrist. She now was blindfolded, handcuffed, and completely helpless.
Lisa shuttered with fright. She had done the exact same thing to Ken many times over, but only once had she ever been restrained herself. Now here she was, cuffed, blindfolded, and naked, having forfeited her right to exercise free will. Through her own choice she had reduced herself to little more than a passive inanimate object, nothing except an extension of Tracy, or whoever happened to be controlling her at that moment.
"Pledge Lisa, you will kneel."
Lisa heard her three companions gasp with fright. She realized why when she felt the tip of the riding crop touch her upper left shoulder, about halfway between her collarbone and her breast.
"Pledge, Lisa, according to the tradition of our sorority, you must be harshly struck on the shoulder. The mark will symbolize your courage and your commitment to the rest of us. I will strike you in the same spot three times. Do you agree to be marked, in accordance with Four-Beta tradition?"
Lisa felt the crop tap her shoulder a final time. She flinched, but tried her best to avoid moving. She felt a slight moment of air as Tracy raised the crop for the first blow.
The blow seared into the tender skin of her shoulder as Lisa gasped, struggled against her cuffs, and tried to fight back the tears. The pain was a cruel burning that seemed to only get worse as her nerves registered what had just happened with her brain. Lisa trembled, because she still had two blows to go. She forced herself to kneel upright and nerved herself for the second stroke.
Through the burning of her injured skin Lisa felt tap of the crop a second time. She held her breath and winced as Tracy raised the implement to strike.
"Uhhh!... Er!... Uh!... Uh!..."
The burning felt white hot and totally consumed her thoughts. Lisa gritted her teeth and was gasping, totally shocked that something as simple as the tip of a riding crop could hurt so badly.
"OK, Pledge Lisa, just one more to go. You ready?"
"I... I... Yes ma’am... I’m ready..."
"Ahhh... Ow... Ow!"
Lisa twisted and gasped as the pain from the final stroke settled over the first two strokes. However, she wanted to set an example to the other pledges by being as stoic as possible. She managed to quiet down within a minute, although her face under her blindfold was wet with tears.
"Get ready to stand-up, Pledge Lisa!"
Tracy reached for Lisa’s arm and helped her to her feet. Lisa stood quietly, displaying a vivid red mark on her shoulder that was still swelling and getting darker. Tracy took the pledge’s shoulders and turned her to face the two presidents, then the sorority, then the fraternity, and finally the other three frightened pledges. The women’s eyes were glued to the raised welt that now marked Lisa as eligible to continue her pledge commitment.
"You will understand that all of us here had to accept the mark before we continued our journey into the circle of our sisters and brothers. Pledge Lisa now bears that mark and will continue her journey, if she so desires."
"Pledge Lisa, you will kneel."
"You have earned the right to continue your journey with us. Do you wish to do so?"
"Yes, ma’am. I want to continue."
"Then... congratulations, Pledge Lisa. You’re journey with us will continue."
Lisa had expected to have her restraints taken off as soon as Tracy was finished presenting her, but her mentor left her kneeling cuffed and blindfolded. She shifted uncomfortably as her shoulder throbbed in pain. A mark. Yes, she was marked all right, with a very painful welt that would take more than a week to completely heal.
As Lisa squirmed from her throbbing shoulder and her uncomfortable position on the floor, there was an ominous silence while the other three pledges looked at each other and tried to work up the courage to be the next one to be cuffed and struck on the shoulder. Much to everyone’s surprise, it was Cherine who spoke next.
"Ma’am... I... I... I mean... Pledge Cherine... requests... requests permission... to speak."
"You may speak, Pledge Cherine."
"I... I mean... ma’am... please... I... I would be honored to... to wear the restraints and get the mark... and... to continue my... commitment as a pledge."
"Pledge Cherine, you will stand-up."
For the second time that night Heather handed Tracy a black blindfold and a pair of handcuffs.
"Pledge Cherine, do you wish to continue your quest to become one of us?"
"Y... Yes, ma’am."
Cherine was shaking badly from fear. The sorority president interrupted to ask her a question.
"Pledge Cherine, from the looks of you I’d say that you’re quite scared right now."
"I... I... yes, ma’am... I’m scared. I... I’m sorry."
"Pledge, that is nothing to be sorry about. You’re afraid, and you’re facing your fear. That makes you not a coward, but quite the opposite, a very courageous woman. Real courage is not about not being afraid. Real courage is about being afraid but learning to get past it. That’s what you’re doing right now and I commend you for it."
"Yes, ma’am. Thank you, ma’am."
"Sergeant-at-Arms, you may continue."
"Yes, President Alexandra."
With that Tracy wrapped the blindfold around Cherine’s face and cuffed her hands behind her back.
Cherine was every bit as scared as before, but the words of support from the sorority president took away the shame that she had felt from being so frightened. That support, and the inspiration that Lisa had given her, was just enough to keep her focused on getting through the upcoming ordeal.
All day long Cherine had been wondering if she could possibly get through the pledge process. She had spent much of her time trying to figure out how to quit without causing too much of a stir for everyone else. That moment had passed. She would get through the pledge ordeal, just like she would get through being marked, because she knew that she absolutely had to. She realized that the Four-Betas offered her the only hope she had of making a clean break from her past. She would become a member of this sorority and a friend of Lisa, she would change, and finally she would confront the ghosts of her childhood.
"Pledge, Cherine, according to the tradition of our sorority, you must be struck hard on the shoulder. The mark will symbolize your courage and your commitment to the rest of us. I will strike you in the same spot three times. Do you agree to be marked, in accordance with Four-Beta tradition?"
Tracy raised the riding crop for the first blow.
Cherine screamed and jerked back. She started crying immediately, but to everyone’s amazement, managed to right herself. As her small body shook with sobs, she bravely knelt straight to position herself for the second blow. Tracy struck hard a second time, eliciting another scream and more crying from the suffering pledge. She waited for Cherine to catch her breath so she could deliver the final blow.
Tracy felt somewhat sorry for Cherine, much more so than she had felt for Lisa. While it was obvious that Lisa was by far the toughest member of the pledge group, in contrast Cherine seemed to be by far the most sensitive. The strokes would be much harder on her than they had been on Lisa, leaving Tracy somewhat concerned that Cherine still might not make it through the night as a pledge.
However there wasn’t anything that could be done to ease the young pledge’s suffering, because for her to continue to be eligible as a pledge for the sorority, she had to have a painful and visible welt on her shoulder. Tracy was enforcing a tradition that went clear back to 1926, when the first Four-Beta upper class-women marked their pledges in the same manner and then forced them to go out in public wearing flappers with low neck-lines. Since the very origins of the Four-Betas, it was the mark on the left shoulder that distinguished a Four-Beta pledge from all other sorority pledges.
"OK, Pledge Cherine, just one more to go. You ready?"
"I... I... Yes ma’am... I’m ready...
Cherine screamed pitifully, but Tracy heaved a huge sigh of relief that the pledge had taken her final stroke. All she needed to do was recover enough to stand up and allow her mark to be presented to the officers and upperclassmen in the room, and then she’d be finished with her ordeal.
After several minutes Cherine stood up for Tracy and allowed her to be presented to the officers, the members of the fraternity and sorority, and finally her fellow pledges.
"Pledge Cherine now bears that mark and will continue her journey, if she so desires."
"Pledge Cherine, you will kneel."
"You have earned the right to continue your journey with us. Do you wish to do so?"
"Yes, ma’am. I want to continue."
"Then... congratulations, Pledge Cherine. You’re journey with us will continue."
Cherine struggled to quit crying as she knelt cuffed and blindfolded next to Lisa. She was traumatized by the incredible pain burning into her shoulder, but she had made it. She had passed the first serious test in her pursuit of joining the Four-Beta Sorority.
The marking of Bernadette and Kathleen went well and was over relatively quickly. The two women realized if Cherine could make it through the ordeal; there was no reason they couldn’t. Each stoically knelt to take her three strokes and afterwards each quietly knelt wincing at the burning pain in her shoulder. Bernadette cried quietly for a few minutes as she knelt, but Kathleen held up as well as Lisa and made no sound after receiving her final blow.
The four naked pledges, all of them blindfolded and handcuffed, continued to kneel quietly while the Four-Beta sorority members voted on whether or not to allow them to continue pledging. The vote was a formality, because normally no Four-Beta ever voted against a pledge who had made it through the medical exam and had successfully submitted to being marked. Crying was never held against anyone, because some women cried and some didn’t. What mattered was not crying, but instead the pledge’s willingness to follow orders and suffer on behalf of the traditions of the sorority.
Following the vote, Tracy and Heather ordered the four pledges to stand up. They struggled to their feet, their legs stiff from having had to kneel so long. The Sergeant-at-Arms and her assistant then ordered the four women to stand next to each other, their eyes still covered and their hands still behind their backs. Tracy picked up the riding crop and Heather the black felt bag. One stood on each side of the naked women for a formal post-marking group photo of the pledge group. The four pledges couldn’t see anything, but they heard the camera go off several times as they stood with their two formally dressed mentors. The group photo documented an important event, that the pledges had passed their initial test and now faced a summer full of difficult but rewarding challenges.
As soon as the ceremony ended and the 80 fraternity and sorority members left the room, Tracy ordered her group to kneel so she could take off their blindfolds and handcuffs. The pledges returned the restraints to the black bag. Tracy then ordered the pledges to get some cleaning supplies and to clean up the ceremonial room, to include dusting, vacuuming, washing all the windows, and putting away the benches and podiums.
Tracy then handed a key to the minivan to Bernadette and told her to put the bag on the front seat of the vehicle, lock it up, and come back inside. When she realized that putting the bag in the minivan meant going outside naked, Bernadette made an unfortunate mistake. She had the audacity to question Tracy’s order.
"But, ma’am, I can’t go outside! I don’t have anything on!"
Tracy’s face changed color and her lips tightened. Lisa cringed, because she knew what was coming.
Sure enough, Tracy exploded. She ferociously poked the offender in the chest several times as she shouted, "When I give you an order, YOU WILL OBEY THAT ORDER! That’s what you do, Pledge! You obey the orders I give you! Just who the hell do you think you are, arguing with me? Just who the FUCK do you think you are, PLEDGE?"
Bernadette, who had not previously seen Tracy in drill-sergeant mode, shook with absolute terror.
"You put that bag, in that car, NOW!"
Without saying another word, Bernadette struggled to put on her shower shoes and raced out the door with the bag. She ran out to the vehicle, deposited the bag on the front seat, and ran back to the house, trying to ignore the whistles of the fraternity guys across the street. She was mortified at being on such public display to a bunch of strangers, but now she had a much worse problem, dealing with Tracy’s explosive temper. She ran back to join her companions, who were standing together in a line.
"ALL FOUR OF YOU, FRONT-LEANING REST POSITION, NOW!!!"
Lisa and Cherine instinctively dropped to the floor. Bernadette and Kathleen took a second longer, a second too long. Tracy ordered them back up and to "try it again". The women rose and fell several times before having to do two sets of 10 four-count pushups. By the time Tracy finished with the second set the pledges were beyond exhausted and their bodies were trembling from muscle fatigue.
"Stand up, all of you!"
The four pledges scrambled to get to their feet and snap to attention. Bernadette continued to tremble from fear.
"I was gonna take you back to the Four-Beta House so you could get some sleep, but because you’ve been insubordinate, I’ve decided that’s not gonna happen for a while! Obviously you guys are gonna need some discipline! I’m gonna put you to work! You’ll be starting by cleaning up this room, but that’s just the beginning! You’re also gonna be cleaning the kitchen, the laundry room and every bathroom in this house! Pledge Lisa, you’re in charge!"
Tracy suddenly walked out of the sitting room, only to return a minute later with a leather paddle and a small regulation book.
"I’m gonna make sure you pledges do your jobs right! This..." she held up the guide book, "...is the regulation manual for Tri-Alpha pledges for building clean-up! Lot’s of stuff in here, little nit-picky details, you’ll need to worry about! And I’m gonna give you good reason to worry! I’m inspecting tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m., and for each violation of these regulations, Pledge Lisa gets two swats on the butt." If I find 50 violations, guess what? That’s 100 swats and one very sore Pledge Lisa!"
The pledges recoiled from the unfairness of Tracy’s threat. Why Lisa? She didn’t do anything...
Tracy grabbed Bernadette by the wrist and led her to one of the benches.
"Put your hands on the bench, little Miss Combative!"
Bernadette did as she was told, bending over and exposing her trembling white bottom.
"Take a good look, Pledges! Let me give you a demo of what I’m talking about!"
POP!...POP!... POP!... POP!... POP!... POP!...
Tracy landed 10 hard swats on Bernadette’s bare backside, quickly changing the color from white to solid pink. Tears ran down Bernadette’s cheeks.
With that Tracy left and the pledges set to work cleaning the sitting room. Lisa picked up the manual and organized the others to sweep the carpet and clean the windows while she dusted. Cherine and Kathleen gave Bernadette very hostile looks, while she looked away and started to cry. Upon noticing her companions turning on poor Bernadette, Lisa ordered the group to stop for a minute.
"Look you three. We need to get something straight here. You can’t go blaming each other, because that’s exactly what Tracy’s looking for. She’s testing us, to see if we’re gonna turn on each other. You want to screw this up, then you go right ahead and blame each other."
Bernadette began crying in earnest. Lisa ignored her and continued.
"A couple of things to remember. If you’re stupid enough to think we were gonna get any sleep tonight, all I can say is that I feel real sorry for you! Didn’t you see that she was carrying an overnight bag when we came over here? What’s that tell you?"
Lisa paused to let that sink in and continued, "Pledges never get any sleep on the first night. That’s part of the hazing. They do the same thing to every group. I can tell you, for a fact, if it hadn’t been Bernadette, it would’ve been something else."
Bernadette was still crying, but Lisa could tell that she about to calm down and that the crisis was passing. Cherine had a question.
"Lisa, what do we gotta do, to keep you from getting paddled? I mean... it’s not fair that..."
"It’s not fair, but I’m gonna get paddled, no matter what you guys do. That’s between me and Tracy. Just do what you can and skip the guilt trips. None of us is getting any sleep, so we might as well try our best to clean this place up."
When the women finished cleaning the sitting room, they proceeded to the kitchen. Their hearts sank when they saw what a mess it was. Normally the Tri-Alpha sophomores were responsible for cleaning the kitchen whenever no pledges were available, but, as of that night, pledges were available and the guys could take the night off. They left untouched a day’s worth of dirty dishes and cooking utensils for a fraternity of 40 members and their 40 female guests. The condition of the kitchen confirmed Lisa’s theory that Tracy never had any intention of taking the pledges back to the Four-Beta house that night. She knew the kitchen had been left that way on purpose; because normally there was no way the Tri-Alphas would tolerate such a mess on their property.
Lisa relayed her observation to the others and then ordered her companions to empty the two dishwashers and pack them with as many plates and glasses as they would hold. While the dishwashers were running she took out several bags of trash. She ordered Cherine and Bernadette to start scrubbing pots and Kathleen to clean the two stovetops.
It took several trips to clear out all the trash from the kitchen. Lisa’s treks to the dumpster took her outside where she could see the pool area. Tracy, Heather, and a couple other Four-Betas were playing water volleyball against several Tri-Alphas. Everyone in the pool was naked, since swimsuits were prohibited in the pool areas of both the sorority and the fraternity. It was strange to see Heather and Tracy, who behaved in such a fearsome manner towards the pledges, relaxing and splashing in the water just like any of the other women of the sorority.
Lisa returned to the kitchen, consulted the manual, and ordered her companions to organize the first batch of clean dishes to put away. As the others put the dishes back on their shelves, Lisa loaded a second batch into the dishwashers, packing them in as tightly as possible. Now they were making some progress, with half the dishes put away and the other half in the dishwashers. There were still plenty of pots and pans to scrub, but it now seemed there no longer was enough work in the kitchen to keep all four women busy.
Lisa suddenly had an idea. It was a bit risky, but as she looked at the exhausted faces of her companions, figured the risk was worth taking. She remembered seeing a small side room near the Pledge Shower that was empty except for a small bed. She decided to tell Kathleen and Cherine to go in there, close the door, and get two hours of sleep. Meanwhile Lisa and Bernadette would finish up in the kitchen. By that time the kitchen would be done and the four women could start on the bathrooms.
There was absolutely no argument from the two pledges. They crawled into the bed and promptly went to sleep. Lisa and Bernadette chatted as they finished cleaning the pots. Lisa was able to tell Bernadette the story of her first punishment at the hands of Tracy, the screaming fit over her simple request to make sure she understood Tracy’s command to get undressed.
"They’ve had their system set up like this for years. A lot of it they get from the military. That’s why what Tracy’s doing doesn’t really bother me, because she’s just doing her job. I’d bet that to get her position she went off and got trained somewhere."
"But, I still don’t get it. Why are they doing this to us? And how come they’re trying to get us to fight with each other?"
"The military stuff and the discipline is to get us into shape and make sure we really want to join. They’re using the unfair punishments to test us to see how good we are at sticking up for each other and working together. I’d bet that if we start fighting, they’ll kick us out."
Lisa knew that something else that was being tested, herself. Somehow, during the first few minutes they interacted, Tracy had picked up on Lisa’s potential for leadership. Tracy was testing Lisa much more than she was testing the others, because she realized that Lisa had a talent for organizing other people and was willing to make personal sacrifices for those under her command. That was the reason she had placed Lisa in charge of the cleanup. How well the cleanup went and how well the pledges were getting along with each other the next morning was the Four-Betas’ first big test of her leadership skills.
Within just three hours, the sitting room was completely clean and the kitchen getting close to being clean. Bernadette’s mood had improved dramatically and she no longer felt guilty or frightened. Cherine and Kathleen would have a couple of hours of sleep, a luxury denied to Lisa and Bernadette, so hopefully their mood would be better as well. Anyhow, no longer could they say anything against Bernadette, because they had enjoyed two hours of sleep while she and Lisa had continued working.
After two more hours the kitchen was clean. Bernadette poured Lisa and herself some mineral water while Lisa compared the kitchen’s condition with the regulations listed in the manual. By now it was 3:00 in the morning and the pledges only had three more hours to clean the laundry room and the bathrooms. Lisa shook Kathleen and Cherine awake, told them to make the bed, and then headed to the laundry room. For the next hour the women folded a pile of clean sheets and washed several loads of dirty linen. While the sheets were drying the women cleaned the five bathrooms in the house and replaced all the towels. The dirty towels meant at least one more load of laundry, which had to go into the washers while the pledges folded what remained of the sheets.
While the others were hauling towels to the laundry room, Lisa nervously looked at the clock and the inspection manual. She went through the bathrooms and moved a few things around to make sure the rooms were in compliance with the instructions in the book. She glanced at the clock yet again. It was 4:45 a.m. We might just make it, she thought to herself.
The towels were not dry until 5:45 a.m. The women worked feverishly to fold them and get them back into the linen closet. Lisa and Bernadette ran the towels upstairs to put away while Cherine and Kathleen tidied up the laundry room. At 5:59 Lisa grabbed the manual and directed her companions to return to the empty sitting room.
The four pledges knelt together as they heard footsteps coming down the stairs. It was exactly 6:00 a.m. when Tracy and Heather entered the sitting room. Tracy was carrying her leather paddle and a notebook.
"Good morning, pledges."
"Good morning, ma’am."
"Are the rooms I asked you to clean ready for inspection?"
"OK, let’s check them out. Everyone on your feet!"
Tracy handed the paddle to Heather and the opened her notebook. She carefully moved about the sitting room, running her finger over various surfaces, looking for dust. She didn’t find anything until she reached up to the wooden coverings protecting the tops of the draperies. Lisa cringed, because no one had thought about those coverings. Tracy documented the violation in her notebook and continued looking around the room. She found another violation, a bottle of window cleaner that had been overlooked and left behind one of the curtains. She noted the second violation before the women left to inspect the kitchen.
The inspection was completed within 20 minutes, just as some of the early risers in the fraternity were starting to get up and use the bathrooms. Tracy noted a total of 18 violations, which would mean 36 swats from the paddle for Lisa. While the other three pledges glanced quietly and apologetically at Lisa, their leader sighed with relief that the number of violations was not considerably more. In reality Tracy and Heather were quite impressed with Lisa’s performance.
What a contrast between this cleanup test and the one last fall! The inspection from the disorganized cleanup conducted by the previous pledge group (which started with a total of 12 members) had resulted in a total of 79 violations, a fight, finger-pointing among the pledges, multiple paddlings, and two expulsions from the group. With just four members, the summer pledge group had accomplished something that 12 pledges had not been able to accomplish last September.
Tracy called the pledges to attention, "Pledges! Stand up!"
"Take these keys and bring back the bag you put in the minivan last night!"
Bernadette managed to hide her distress. Tracy’s order required her to run out to the vehicle in the early morning sunlight, unlock it, and retrieve the same cloth bag that had gotten her into so much trouble just 10 hours before. This time however, she knew better than to argue. She put on her shower shoes, ran out the front door, and braved the whistles and cheering from the neighboring frat houses. She quickly pulled the bag out of the minivan and raced back into the house.
Bernadette knelt while Tracy and Heather took out a set of handcuffs and blindfolds. In quick succession they blindfolded all four pledges and cuffed their hands behind their backs. With the assistance of two nearby fraternity members, they led the four pledges into the sitting room where the members of the fraternity were waiting. The Tri-Alphas had returned the benches to the sitting room and had brought in a small sturdy table. They were sitting quietly when the four pledges came in. Tracy’s voice rang out, "Pledges! You will kneel, except Pledge Lisa! Pledge Lisa, you will step forward!
Lisa now faced yet another test, her first physical punishment at the hands of Heather. The Four-Beta Sergeant-at-Arms secretly would have liked to cancel Lisa’s paddling, but knew that she couldn’t. The first night’s cleanup was an important test for the pledges, and the post-cleanup paddling was part of the tradition. The paddling was a public event to be conducted in front of the fraternity, so canceling it was out of the question. Heather sighed as she unfolded a pre-printed punishment letter to fill in Lisa’s name and the numbers "18" and "36".
Tracy took off Lisa’s blindfold and handcuffs. She ordered Lisa to kneel and passed her the letter.
"Read this out loud, Pledge Lisa!"
Lisa read, "Last night, I, Pledge Lisa Campbell, was placed in charge of cleaning the sitting room, the kitchen, the bathrooms, and the laundry room of the Tri-Alpha Fraternity House. My assistants and I were given an entire night to bring the aforementioned rooms into compliance with the Tri-Alpha Fraternity Maintenance Code and Regulation Guide. I was given a copy of the guide so there would be no doubt concerning what we needed to do."
"Unfortunately, due to my own laziness and negligence, my group failed to fully comply with the maintenance guide. An inspection of the facilities uncovered 18 violations of the conditions set out by the guide for the areas we cleaned."
"I understand and agree with the Four-Beta philosophy that dictates that negligence is an unacceptable human deficiency and that any manifestation of negligence needs to be severely punished. Because I allowed 18 instances of negligence to go uncorrected, I am requesting to be appropriately disciplined."
"What I am asking for, specifically, is to be struck two times on my naked bottom for each instance of negligence I overlooked when my companions failed to properly clean the areas assigned to my group. I am requesting that the Four-Beta Sergeant-at-Arms administer my punishment. I also am requesting that, because my negligence caused the Tri-Alpha Fraternity House to not be properly cleaned, that the full membership of the fraternity be present to witness my punishment."
Lisa swallowed and looked up at Heather, who was holding Tracy’s notebook and the leather paddle.
"Very well, Pledge Lisa. We appreciate your honesty and will grant you the punishment that you have requested. However, we will insist that the members of the Tri-Alpha Fraternity understand exactly why you need to be punished. I have numbered each instance in which you failed to comply with the Tri-Alpha Fraternity Maintenance Code and Regulation Guide. Before I administer the strokes for each violation, you will read that violation out loud to everyone in the room. After I swat you two times, you will read the next violation, and again I will swat you. Do you understand and agree?"
"Yes, ma’am. I... I understand and agree."
Heather set the notebook on the table facing upwards so Lisa could read it. Then she instructed the pledge to hold onto the edges of the table, spread her legs about shoulder-width apart, and arch her back to make her bottom stick out properly. She passed her hand over Lisa’s bottom a couple of times before positioning herself and touching the paddle to Lisa’s right bottom-cheek.
"Please begin, Pledge Lisa."
"Item One -- There was dust present on the drapery boxes of the ceremonial room, in violation of page 22 of the guidebook."
POP!...POP! Heather landed a cruel swat against each bottom cheek, and then positioned herself for Lisa’s second offence.
Lisa bit her lip as the stinging mounted, and then continued, "Item Two -- There was a bottle of window cleaner left on a windowsill of the ceremonial room, in violation of page 23 of the guidebook."
Lisa took a deep breath and read, "Item Three -- The top shelf of the kitchen glass rack was not dusted, in violation of page 11 of the guidebook."
"Item Four -- Lint buildup at the base of the refrigerator was not cleaned, in violation of page 10 of the guidebook."
Each item from the list added to both Lisa’s physical pain and also to her humiliation. To listen to the way she was forced to recite the violations one by one, anyone listening would have thought she had done something truly horrific. By the fifteenth violation and resulting swats Lisa was starting to cry. Her bottom was a dark, angry-looking pink and quite swollen. Her tears and crying made the reading of the final three items on the list very difficult.
As hard as the punishment was for Lisa, it was even harder for her three companions. Their blindfolds prevented them from seeing what was happening to their fellow pledge, but they could hear everything quite clearly. All three of them felt that Lisa was taking punishment that they should be taking instead and were consumed with guilt.
Once Heather finished paddling Lisa she put on her cuffs and blindfold and instructed her to kneel with her three companions. Lisa continued to cry, partly from the pain, partly from the humiliating experience she had just endured, and partly because the lack of sleep was starting to break down her resistance.
The hazing of the four pledges had begun in earnest.
Lisa’s companions realized something important as they knelt waiting for her crying to die down. No formal agreement was ever discussed between them, but within 24 hours of starting the initiation process Cherine, Kathleen, and Bernadette had each decided that Lisa would be the leader of the pledge group. From that moment the three pledges felt obligated to do whatever she told them to do.