In the very short prologue, the cheerleading team from Salem University are competing in the regional championship. Someone keeps watching them from the shadows and whispering about how they will get what is coming to them soon enough.
Apparently Salem University does cheerleading in a completely different way than any other school in the world. All the girls trying out live in a dormitory called Abby House, even though classes already started and they presumably already live on campus. Delle is a new freshman who tries out because she was a cheerleader in junior high and high school. It totally kicks her ass and makes her think back to her high school boyfriend, Warren, who she dumped after he proposed to her.
The girls also meet Marla and Rory, who are the co-captains of the squad and Jennifer, one of the other cheerleaders. Marla later tells them that the reason they need new cheerleaders is because the old squad died in a bus accident. The bus crashed and everyone on board except for Jennifer died. She was thrown free, and the other two survived because they had other rides. Marla claims that someone killed them, but Rory tells her to shut up.
Delle then meets Morgana who goes by Mojo. Mojo tells her yet another story. The gym they practice in and Abby House were part of the old campus for women when Salem had two separate schools for both sexes. The cheerleaders were practicing in the gym when it caught fire. Everyone except for one girl got out. She supposedly haunts both buildings and wears a long red dress. She wakes that night to a fire in her room. It gets put out, but the coach blames her for the fire because she found a cigarette butt in the trash. Jennifer begins screaming that it's the Woman in Red coming after them again.
Things get a little weird when Delle swears that she saw a Woman in Red when she first woke. No one really believes her, but this guy Greg agrees to stick around and help her clean up her room. Some people also point out that the girl in the room next to her, Susan, never came out to see what happened. Greg tells her that a lot of people believe in the Woman in Red and does some mild flirting with her before leaving.
During their next practice, they meet Susan. She's your typically bitchy girl who acts like she's above everyone else. Delle hears a scream and shouts for everyone to get out of the way right before a heavy beam falls. Mojo points out that it could have hurt a lot of girls but Delle saved them. Delle realizes she was the only one who heard the scream. Greg tries asking her out but it turns into a big group thing. Rory, who is a hot looking guy and not a chick like on Gilmore Girls, approaches her. He makes a few weird comments about the bus accident and seems to believe in the Woman in Red story.
Delle then goes for a long walk around campus by herself. Since this is a Nightmare Hall book, she naturally wanders by Nightingale Hall, remembers hearing the story of the girl who killed herself there, and gets creeped out. She then sees a red light in the window of the gym and sees it turn white and red again. Delle goes over to check things out, finds the gym dark, and feels someone grab her, but it's just Greg. The coach catches them, accuses Delle of smoking again, and tells them to leave. Greg walks her back to her dorm and starts to kiss her before making a creepy comment about how he kisses better in the dark and leaves.
The coach rides them pretty hard at their next practice. She shouts at Delle a bunch and once again accuses her of being a secret smoker. The coach even yells at her about doing a move wrong and makes someone else show her how to do it. She then asks this guy Peter to try a few moves on the trampoline. This must be the biggest trampoline in the history of trampolines because his harness breaks, he falls, and girls start screaming that he's dead.
He's not actually dead, but it does make Delle have a nightmare that night. She dreams that someone knocked her out, put her in a cheerleader uniform, and locked her in a car. When she finally got to the front seat, it was her former boyfriend Warren driving. She then wakes to hear someone calling her name through the door. It's Greg, and even though it's past curfew, he wants her to come with him to check out the gym.
They sneak over and find a hidden catwalk over the ceiling. They both realize that there could be someone hiding up there and watching the cheerleaders. The coach comes in, starts yelling, and wanders around for a bit before leaving. Greg kisses her when the coach turns the lights off, which makes me wonder what is up with him.
The next day, Delle finds a threatening note in red written on her wall and a doll dressed in a cheerleader uniform hanging by its neck. She freaks out and tells all the other girls who also freak out. After a short argument about who should clean it up, they somehow all decide on Susan. Susan then walks into the room and finds nothing there. Both the note and the doll are gone.
Delle and the cheerleaders talk about what happened but don't reach a conclusion. They go to practice the next day and hear from the coach about how she thinks they all did a great job and how she'll make her final decision soon. Delle feels pretty good about her chances of making the squad, but she wakes later that night and hears someone on the closed off fourth floor of the dorm. Instead of calling for help like a sane person, she checks it out herself. Someone sneaks up behind and clubs her across the head.
When she wakes, she sees Susan standing over her. Susan says that she heard the noises too, went to check things out, and found her. They also find Jennifer lying on the ground with her ear torn open. Jennifer wakes long enough to beg them to help her get away before “she” comes back. They get her back to her room, and Jennifer tells them that the Woman in Red always comes back when something bad is about to happen and something extremely bad is about to happen. Delle says that she thinks it's someone just dressing up as the Woman in Red, but Jennifer seems to think it's actually a ghost.
Delle barely sleeps the night before the last tryouts but somehow makes the squad. So do Mojo, Greg, and some random dude named Charles. Marla acts like a big bitch and tells Delle she better respect her in the future because she's the captain, apparently forgetting that Rory is also a captain. They then go to some big deal event on campus. It's to announce the new cheerleaders and pay homage to the ones who died.
Before it even starts, Delle thinks that there is something really wrong. Her feelings keep getting worse and worse until she smells smoke in the gym. Her and Mojo jump up and start shouting that there's a fire, but when they find the doors locked, people lose their shit. Delle starts cheering instructions to keep the group calm and help them out. Just then, the lights go out and when they look up, they see the coach standing on the catwalk.
It turns out that the coach's little brother was on the squad and was one of the cheerleaders who died. She came back to get revenge on the new cheerleaders who had nothing to do with his death. Makes sense, right? Delle sees a rope hanging from the catwalk and points it out to Greg, who climbs the rope to reach her. The coach sees him and raises her foot to kick him off. There's suddenly a weird red flash, and the coach falls down right into the fire.
The firefighters arrive on the scene and put out the fire. They discover that the only person who died was the coach. Greg comforts Delle, and she asks him if he saw the Woman in Red like she did. He looks confused, and she realizes she was the only one who saw her again. Greg then puts his arm around her, and they walk out of the gym together.
Sadly, I think this may be the last Nightmare Hall book I have...for now.