When Jericho Prescott and his friends are invited to join a prestigious school club, they are thrilled and honored, but what should be harmless fun quickly turns sinister. Jericho, Joshua, and Kofi are among fifteen high school boys invited to join an exclusive club called the Warriors of Distinction. The boys are eager to get involved, because club membership comes with popularity and privileges. First, the boys are asked to help with a holiday toy drive for children. The drive goes well, but shortly afterward, they each receive an ominous phone call inviting them to meet the Warriors at a warehouse at midnight.
Jericho decides to sneak out of the house to participate. From that point on, Jericho finds himself in morally ambiguous territory. He wants to be a Warrior, but he feels that some of the group’s activities are questionable. The pledges gather at midnight to take an oath of secrecy. One girl, Dana, secretly infiltrates the group, causing an uproar. The Warriors decide to let her continue pledging, because she has already witnessed too many of the club’s inner secrets, but the elder Warriors warn her that the road will not be easy. Eddie makes it his mission to humiliate Dana, hoping she will quit.
Pledge week begins. The pledges are made to wear matching shirts, run in circles, steal, and perform degrading tasks, such as eating earthworms and climbing into a filthy Dumpster. They are called “pledge slime,” beaten, threatened, and made to suck the toes of the older Warriors. They are expected to give up all other activities and be loyal to the club. Jericho, an accomplished trumpet player, even forsakes an opportunity to perform for a Juilliard professor in order to be with the Warriors.
On the last night of pledge week, the Warriors give the pledges alcohol. They lead them upstairs to make the “Leap of Faith,” jumping out a second-story window onto a pallet of mattresses and mud on the ground. The alcohol dulls their inhibitions, so despite being frightened, all the pledges jump. Joshua is the last to leap. He falls headfirst, striking his head on a rock at the edge of the soft landing spot. An ambulance comes, but it is too late. Joshua dies. The students, parents,...
(The entire section is 555 words.)