First, a little background. As some of you might know, I was an Eagle Scout in pretty much the most non-stereotypical scout troop in the world. I learned how to light fires, how to throw knives, the words to every Mel Brooks movie, dirty jokes, drinking songs, how to hold my liquor, how to drain a second-degree sunburn so that I could hike, and a lot more. Other troops were either scared of us or wanted to be us. We were more like a fraternity than a Scout troop. Maybe I'll write this up better sometime. Anyway, our Scoutmaster, without whom the troop pretty much fell apart after he moved away to be with his family, was a former Marine with a potbelly and a mind full of dirty jokes. A lot of our dirty jokes and songs and other ideas were his fault. He loved the troop and wanted to give back to Scouting what Scouting had given to him: leadership, self-reliance, survival skills, and camaraderie. What follows is his favorite scary story.

Bob really knew how to tell this story. What I'm giving you is a good approximation, honed by years of telling it to other people. I can't do it as well as Bob could. Maybe you can. I'll even give you stage directions. But keep in mind that this won't scare you when you read it here. It will scare the bejeezus out of whomever you tell it to, though. I've seen a scout from one of the wiener troops that we ran into faint at the end of this. So, without further ado, Bob's fraternity story.

[The whole time you tell this, circle around the group of people you're telling it to and look into peoples' eyes. It works best with a campfire.]

This story takes place a couple of years back. I was riding on a train, as I occasionally do when I travel. I like the way that you have time to do whatever you want while you travel, and I like to meet and talk to new people.

Anyway, this time, I was sitting across from an older gentleman who was wearing a pin which I've never seen before. It looked kind of like a fraternity pin, the kind you used to see grown men wearing a lot more commonly about forty or fifty years ago. I was something of a buff for these at the time, so I mentioned to him that I'd never seen it before. I asked him what fraternity it was from. He responded,

"Oh, that fraternity has long since disbanded. I'm wearing this pin as sort of an anniversary thing for the fraternity. But you probably don't really care much about my old college stories."

I told him that I was pretty interested, that I had an interest in these pins. I asked what he meant by an anniversary thing, and told him to go ahead and tell me the story. We were going to be on the train for a while; a good story could pass the time.

He began:

"Well, this takes place about thirty years ago. I was going to school at a big state school; I won't bother you with which one. I've long since decided that they're all pretty much the same. At the beginning of my freshman year there, we had our rush, and I found a fraternity that I thought looked pretty fun. Smart guys, a good reputation, and a friend that I'd known before school was in it. Also, several of the friends I'd already made were interested. So we decided to pledge to them. You know the deal. We were pretty much in, moved our things in, were given the pledge pins, and all that was really left was the initiation. This was set for the next new moon, about a week later, so that it would be completely dark.

"The way that it worked, when the night rolled around, was that some of the upperclassmen had found an old abandoned house nearby that hadn't been used by the college for a good long while. They started spreading stories about how it was haunted, how it was evil, all sorts of things like that, but when we figured out that nobody outside the fraternity knew about these stories, we stopped believing them. Anyway, what we had to do was go in one at a time, carrying a lit candle, bring it to the top floor, and put it in the window that faced the front of the house. That way everybody would be able to see it. If we could do it without getting scared off, we were in. Everybody was sitting on a hill watching, so we could see the light on the top floor, and so that we could see anybody trying to sneak out the back.

"So the first guy, I think his name was Freddy, he went in. The other condition that the frat members had put on the initiation was that we couldn't take the same stairs all the way to the top: we needed to walk through the house on each floor so that we could see the light go by. Freddy went in, we didn't see anything for a bit, and then the light went bobbing past all of the windows on the first floor. It disappeared, then after some time we saw it go by all of the windows on the second floor. The next floor was the top. We saw the light come up towards the window, and then — it went out. We waited a couple of minutes, but Freddy didn't come back out.

"We weren't sure what to think. Somebody said that he hadn't done it, that he had probably left at the back. somebody else said that he was probably hiding out, ready to grab the next guy, and so on. We decided to send the next guy up and not worry about. They said that the first guy usually couldn't do it with the initiations they came up with.

"The next kid went up. I don't recall his name; I hadn't really known him before that night. We saw his light go across the first floor…across the second…towards the window on the third floor, and foom! out it went.

"We were kind of getting annoyed at this point. We pretty much all thought that Freddy had grabbed and scared this guy and they were hiding out and planning to do the same to the next person who went up. The next guy who volunteered was on the football team, I believe: a pretty tall, strong guy, blustery and confident. We watched the light go across the first floor…across the second…towards the window on the third floor, and out.

"Well, the frat members were getting pretty annoyed at this point. They said that it was a bust and that the initiation was off. They told us to go home, that they would come up with another initiation. We left grumbling about how some guys just have to ruin a good time for everyone.

"The next morning, I was awoken by sirens. After I'd dressed, I went and followed the sound, and it seemed like half of campus was at this house. Police cars everywhere, an ambulance over to the side. I found somebody I knew and asked him what had happened. He said that a bunch of kids had been killed during the night. When I found out the whole story, it turned out that somebody had called the police when the three hadn't returned. They'd found their bodies in a closet on the third floor, dead, their pledge pins on the floor, and the melted-down candlesticks still on the windowsill. The fraternity was disbanded after that, and I ended up joining another one and pretending that nothing much had happened.

"The strangest thing is that every year since that happened, on the anniversary, one of guys who was in the fraternity at the time has died or pretty much gone crazy. It's been a while, and I'm pretty sure I'm the last one left. Today…is the anniversary, so…"

[Grab somebody and SCREAM!]


Submitted for The 2005 Halloween Horrorquest

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