tagNovels and NovellasThe Pledge Mistress Ch. 22

The Pledge Mistress Ch. 22


Chapter 22 - The scavenger hunt

A few minutes later Tracy turned the pledges over to a sophomore from the fraternity, who in turn escorted the women back to the Four-Beta house. The sight that greeted Lisa and her companions was not re-assuring. The sorority's members were dressed in formal clothing and all were carrying cameras. Obviously the scavenger hunt was going to be a serious matter.

The pledges stripped off their uniforms and knelt in front of President Alexandra. The sorority president told them essentially the same thing Tracy had told them, that they would be looking for the contents of two separate lists: campus landmarks and retrievable items. There were 50 items on each list, for 100 total. The contest would end if one side found every item on both lists. If neither side managed to complete their lists by 5:00 a.m., the team that had retrieved the most items would be declared the winner.

Either way, the losing team faced a very humiliating experience the following afternoon, a public punishment from the Sergeant-at-Arms of the winning side. On Monday after dinner, the losers would be handcuffed and publicly marched over to the house of the winning side. Upon entering the house the losers would be stripped and caned, one cane stroke for each item not retrieved from the group's list. The punishments would be photographed and videotaped, and copies made available to anyone who wanted them. The losing pledges would remain in servitude in the winners' house until the cane marks disappeared from their bodies, which possibly would take as much as a week. The servitude would include some sexual favors, such as submitting to being touched and photographed, and giving physical favors such as foot rubs and erotic massages.

Lisa and her companions trembled upon hearing the contest conditions for the losers. No wonder Tracy had taken getting them ready so seriously. President Alexandra suddenly shouted:


She handed Lisa a digital camera, and told her to take a picture of the other three pledges. Lisa fumbled with the camera for a few seconds as she figured out how it worked, and finally took the picture. The president continued:

"OK, now you know how this camera works. It has a new video card and batteries, so there shouldn't be any problems with it. One rule about the pictures. For the pictures to count, you must have at least one member of your group in each shot, to prove you were at that location. Full body shots, ladies, 'cause we're not allowing any modesty, and I expect you to take turns posing. The shot doesn't count if it's not of your entire body."

With that Alexandra ordered the pledges to go out the front door. They cringed at the thought of walking naked through fraternity row and the Pageant Street businesses at a time plenty of people were still out and about, but to that problem the sorority had a solution. The members lined up around the pledges, forming a human curtain to shield the four naked women in the center. Two sophomores carrying flashlights and stop signs moved out in front of the formation.

With that a tight rectangle of well-dressed women marched down Sorority Row, completely concealing the four naked contestants. The two sophomores jumped into each intersection with their stop signs to halt traffic and make sure the women could cross without breaking formation. The women marched right down the center of Fraternity Row and were joined by the Tri-Alphas, who were using the same formation to shield their pledges. As the two marching groups moved down Pageant Street, they began singing the official songs of the fraternity and sorority in front of dozens of bewildered pedestrians and bar patrons. The concealment ended as soon as Tri-Alphas and Four-Betas had crossed the street separating the Pageant Street businesses from Old Campus. The two formations stopped, the marchers in the front stepped aside to let the pledges pass, and the two presidents ordered the aspiring members to move into the open.

The four women and five men (one of the male pledges already had quit) walked in single file towards the Alumni Club and the judges' table. Sitting at the table with checklists and laptops were two seniors from the sorority and two seniors from the fraternity. The nine contestants knelt in front of the judges as several cameras flashed at them. The fraternity and sorority members circled around the table and positioned themselves so everyone could watch what was going on.

Lisa glanced at the male pledges, noticing they appeared to be exhausted. She wondered how much sleep they had been able to get over the weekend and what, if anything, they had done to prepare themselves for the scavenger hunt.

Holding a megaphone, President Alexandra addressed the entire group, while the pledges nervously waited on their knees. She repeated the rules of the hunt, emphasizing the high stakes for both the contestants and for determining who would go naked at the "Skins and Shirts" ball. She added that the spectators from neither side could do anything to impede the contestants from the other side, but that everyone was free to observe the hunt and take as many pictures as they wanted. She concluded by shouting:


With that one of the judges stepped forward with four tightly typed sheets of paper. He told Ken to pick one sheet, and then Bernadette to pick another. On one side was the list of places that needed to be photographed, and on the other side were the items that needed to be picked up and returned to the judges' table.

"OK, that's it! Go find your stuff!"

The two groups stepped away from the judges and consulted their lists. It was obvious that the males and females were going to employ totally different strategies, because the males divided up what was on their list and ran off in different directions, apparently forgetting that there was only on digital camera for the entire group. The women, mindful of their Pledge Mistress's admonition to stay together, did not even consider splitting up.

Bernadette read:

"Item 1 -- Three rose bushes, one of them dead, next to a large lilac bush under a large window with 18 windowpanes."

Cherine immediate blurted out: "I know! The old theater! It's got those big windows and lilac bushes!"

"OK, let's check it out!"

The women dashed across the lawn and sure enough, the old theater building had 18-pane windows and was surrounded by lilac bushes. A quick circle around the building revealed the dead rose bush. Lisa held up the camera:

"OK, Cherine, you found it, so you get the honor!"

Cherine proudly posed next to the dead rose bush, while Lisa was careful to include the other details listed in Item 1. Bernadette read:

"Item 2 -- A freshly-painted cement staircase next to three newspaper dispensers and a vandalized bicycle rack!"

Lisa smiled. "I ought to know that one! That's the back entrance to the Econ Building!"

"OK, Let's go!"

Less than a minute later the group had their second picture, Lisa standing next to the bicycle rack.

"Item 3 -- An anti-Mega-Town Associates poster and a Danubian national flag. A Danubian flag. Anyone know what'd that look like?"

"It'd be a blue flag with a yellow griffin on it. Kind of medieval-looking," interjected Lisa.

Kathleen excitedly raised her hand: "I know! I think there's a flag like that at the Economic Justice Forum in the Student Center! And I remember seeing something there about Mega-Town!"

"Alright, let's go check it out!"

A minute later the camera's flash went off again, this time documenting Kathleen's body in front of a window displaying a Danubian flag. The Danubian Duchy's national flag was rapidly becoming a symbol for everyone who hated the largest corporation in the U.S., which was why the Economic Justice Forum had one on display in its office.

The Four-Beta pledges quickly and calmly progressed through their list of pictures, vindicating Tracy's preparation and advice to stick together. It seemed that there was someone in the group who knew where each item was. Within two hours Lisa's camera had 50 pictures stored on its memory card; each photo portraying a member of the group posing in front of one of the places on the list. The women actually began having some fun with their assignment, enjoying the cool night air and the daring feeling of running into various university buildings completely naked. It was true that they had to deal with constantly running past dozens of male and female spectators, but most of the people watching were members of the sorority and fraternity or friends, and thus no one was making fun of them or yelling catcalls. During the entire time Campus Security was nowhere in sight, given the on-going action at the other end of the university in the dorm area.

Lisa caught only a few glimpses of the guys. They were clearly in deep trouble, partly because they had not tried to memorize Old Campus, and partly because they were not working together. Instead each Tri-Alpha pledge had taken 10 items off the list and was trying to find them himself. The only member of the male group who was even close to finding his 10 items was Ken, who already was familiar with Old Campus from having been a student the year before. The others were hopelessly lost.

Lisa took a breath and decided to take a slight risk. She decided not to turn in the 50 pictures to the judges until her group already had begun collecting the items from the other side of the list. The pledges went straight to the library, where they had to retrieve a total of 20 titles from the bookshelves. They slipped in through a side entrance, let in by Stacy, the library employee. Standing next to Stacy was a sophomore from the Tri-Alphas, to make sure Stacy did not do anything to tilt the library portion of the contest in favor of the female pledges. There was no concern that the group would be charged with stealing books, because Alexandra and the Tri-Alpha president had previously checked them out and then re-shelved them.

Lisa had a question:

"Have any of the Triple-A's been in here yet?"

"Only Ken. He got five books off the list and just left. I haven't seen any of the others."

Holy crap! This really was going to be a disaster for the guys!

The four naked women scrambled about the library with maps, calmly finding and grabbing the required books. They even had time to stop for a bathroom break and to drink some water. After about 30 minutes all 20 titles were in the group's possession. Lisa handed her camera and the list to Cherine, while she, Kathleen, and Bernadette split the books between them and carried them out of the building.

The judges looked at the Four-Betas in amazement when they approached the table. After just three hours, the women already had found 70 of the 100 items on their list. Following Tracy's advice, Lisa carefully watched while the judges downloaded the 50 pictures from the camera's video card.

Lisa had set aside the remaining 30 items because they were the most difficult and none close to any of the others. True to Tracy's word, one of the items they needed to retrieve was a toilet seat from the men's bathroom of the Economics Building. That particular item was somewhat time consuming, because to get the toilet seat off the toilet the pledges had to either find or improvise a screwdriver. They wasted nearly 30 minutes before Kathleen suddenly remembered that the janitor's closet in the library near the door where Stacy had let them in was open. Maybe there were tools in there?

The four women frantically ran back to the library, and sure enough, the janitor's closet was open and contained a toolbox. Lisa suddenly realized the closet was part of the contest, that it deliberately had been left open as a resource for either side who needed tools to retrieve their items. She wondered if the guys had figured that out yet. Probably not.

With a screwdriver and wrench in hand, the women returned to the Economics Building to retrieve their toilet seat. Kathleen triumphantly held it up while the others laughed and Bernadette took a picture. Then Cherine shocked the group by standing at one of the urinals and pretending to piss. Bernadette took a picture of her before Lisa chased the group out of the bathroom. Her humor had deteriorated. In spite of the moment of levity, she was somewhat less confident about winning the scavenger hunt after the toilet seat retrieval, worried that a single item had taken up 30 minutes of their time.

Items collected over the next hour included several campus fliers and publications from the Student Memorial Center, a cat-tail from the pond behind the Alumni Clubhouse, a white stone from the rock garden near the Old Theater, and a 50-pound weight from the Fitness Center. Carrying the weight across Old Campus was a very unpleasant task, because it had to be carried by two of the pledges at a time. The task was especially hard for Lisa because she was so much taller than her three companions. Whenever she took her turn helping with the heavy disk she had to bend down to avoid pushing the majority of its weight onto her companion.

Once the weight was dropped off Lisa's group only had nine items to go, and it was not even 2:00 in the morning. She glanced at the collection of items retrieved by the guys. They were not even close. She wondered if they even had all of their pictures taken yet.

The final nine items included a light fixture cover from the ballroom of the Student Memorial Center and a ceiling panel from the main dining facility. Both items required using a ladder, which entailed a frantic dash back to the library and the janitor's closet. The pledges made a very amusing sight as they ran back to the Student Center carrying a ladder in the dark while completely naked. Once the ceiling panel was passed down, the pledges folded the ladder to carry back to the library. At that moment Ken came into the dining area with a totally desperate look on his face.

"Lisa, please...where did you get that ladder?"

"You haven't figured it out?"

"No! And I gotta get one of those ceiling panels!"

Bernadette interjected: "Well, that's tough shit, isn't it? If you jerks are too stupid to figure out where the ladders are, why should we help you?"

Lisa felt somewhat differently. She had no intention of telling Ken about the janitor closet, but saw no harm in letting him borrow the ladder to get his ceiling panel. After profusely thanking her, Ken climbed up to get his panel. Bernadette snapped:

"What'd you do that for? You want us to lose?"

"Look, they're not gonna win. Really, what difference does one item make?"

As Ken got down from the ladder with his ceiling panel, Lisa was curious:

"So how many things have you collected so far?"

"All of us?"

"Yeah, all of you. What do you have?"

"I think our last count was 37. This panel will make it 38, unless someone's gotten something that I haven't seen yet."

"Thirty-eight items? In five hours you've just gotten 38 items? What the fuck are you doing?"

The tone in Ken's voice reflected his resignation to his group's impending defeat: "I don't know what the fuck we're doing. We're just running around. Anyhow, thanks for the ladder. By the way, how many items do you guys have?"

"I think the ceiling panel makes it..." Lisa checked the list, "...97. We've got three to go."

Ken's face turned white. At this rate the males were facing a punishment of more than 60 cane strokes each, delivered by none other than Four-Beta Sergeant-at-Arms Heather.

By 3:30 the Four-Beta pledges had everything on their list. The final item was a detachable microphone from a speaker's podium in the Student Center. The women were en route to the judges when Bernadette announced that she needed to use the bathroom. The closest one was in the Economics Building. While the three freshmen went into the bathroom Lisa remained out in the hallway, twirling the microphone that would be the winning item. At that moment Ken rushed by. He was just about to go into the women's bathroom to retrieve a toilet seat when Lisa told him that he had to wait until her companions came out. As he stood nervously waiting, Lisa felt sorry for him. He seemed to have done relatively well with his portion of the search, but his incompetent companions had found very few of the items assigned to them. Because of their stupidity he would suffer horribly later that night.

At that moment Lisa realized that she really was in no mood to watch Ken and his companions receive 60 cane strokes. She still had every intention of winning, but did not see what good it would do anyone to have Ken and his group punished so severely. What she wished was that the tally could have been much closer. She wished that, because in spite of everything, she still deeply cared for Ken and did not want to see him and his group so thoroughly defeated. She wanted a victory, not a blow-out.

Lisa made a significant decision. She decided to give the guys an extra hour to find more items, so the final tally would not be so lop-sided. Really, wouldn't watching them get 20 or 30 strokes from the cane be better than having to sit through 60? She held up the microphone.

"You know what this is?"

"A microphone?"

"It's our last item. Once we turn this in the contest will be over."

Ken sighed. Lisa took a deep breath and continued:

"I'm gonna tell you what you did wrong, and then give you a chance to fix some of it. You shouldn't have split up, especially for the picture-taking portion of the hunt. For that type of thing you've got to put your heads together, and instead you're all running off in separate directions. Now go find your group and tell them you've got an hour to get what's left of your pictures."

"But, I thought you're gonna..."

"We're gonna win. There's no doubt about that because I'm not letting you get your toilet seat. Anyhow you'd need a screwdriver to do it, and I'm gonna guess you didn't notice the toolbox in the janitor's closet where Stacy's standing in the library..." Ken closed his eyes and groaned, "...but anyhow don't worry about it because I'm not letting you have the toilet seat. What I am gonna let you have is the rest of your pictures. I'm giving you an hour and I'll give you one clue. If you're looking for windows with 18 panes, the only building that's got 'em is the old theater."

Ken was quiet for a moment. Finally he asked:

"How come you're letting us..."

"Because I don't want to sit up all night tonight watching your butts get demolished. I want to win, but I don't want to totally slaughter you. Now move your ass and go find the others. I'm giving you an hour before I turn in the microphone."

Ken took off to find the group-mate that currently was using the camera. At that moment, Lisa's three companions came out of the bathroom, assuming they would continue their trek to the judges' table. Instead, Lisa directed them into the outer portion of Burnside's office and explained what was happening. The other three vehemently objected, shocking Lisa by angrily demanding that the group return to the judges immediately. The most forceful objection came from Kathleen:

"Yes, those guys are gonna get humiliated and that's what I want! I wanna totally slaughter them! And I do wanna see the shit get beat out of them! Fuck giving them an hour! We've busted our asses to win, and you just want to give it away! Fuck that! No way!"

Cherine interjected: "You think they'd do the same thing for us? I don't think so..."

Bernadette added: "It's three against one, Lisa. The deal you made with them is canceled. We're going back, now."

To that Lisa countered: "Before we go back, I want you to think about something. We're gonna be seeing those guys for the next four years. Four years! We're gonna be going to dances with 'em, raising money with 'em, doing all kinds of events and trips with 'em. How we treat them when they're down is something they're gonna remember. If we cut them some slack now, maybe, when they're in our shoes and we're in theirs, they'll do the same for us. Think real careful about what you're planning to do, because this is our chance to either make five friends, or make five enemies. As for me, I'd prefer to have five friends."

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