Sitting Adventures: The Summer of Near Death Experiences

AN: I am currently immobile due to some super fun left ankle and right foot breakage, so I decided to write about adventures I’d have otherwise. Enjoy!

Olivia was a cave spelunkers worst nightmare. It wasn’t that she didn’t follow the rules, she always had a buddy, always had permission from the owner, she did her research and was rarely unprepared. No, it was the crazy situations her buddy was forced to endure with her. Fletch always thought Olivia had to have been an asshole in her last life, or at least some kind of vicious unrelenting IRS worker, (which had nothing to do with Fletch’s undying hatred of tax season).

Fletch had seen this woman get trapped, stuck, pinned, hanging upside down, and they’d both been chased by something they were pretty sure was the Rabbit of Caerbannog. That was just in the caves. Out side of the caves? Olivia faced mishap after mishap, flat tires, weird injuries, being offered strange items by creepy old ladies, (Fletch was still ticked she turned down the original film reel from Wrath of Khan), getting lost with a GPS, getting into fights with bikers, being caught in a hostage situation at the Happy National Bank in Amarillo, and the worst? Constantly being completely oblivious to any and all flirting. It drove Fletch insane, but that’s another story.

Who had to help her out? Fletch did. Granted Olivia had help Fletch get out of quite a few tight spots, (including that one time in Saratoga), in and out of the cave, but damn did the woman end up in weird situations. Fletch had long learned to deal with everything with naught but a startled yelp and sigh of exasperation. Granted, whenever they got lost, they always found really good food and cool stores and little places.

Olivia was like a bag of oddly shaped dice. You never knew what you were going to get. Sometimes Fletch thought she might be some kind of weird mythical creature with a propensity to find great things by stumbling over a bunch of roadblocks and through the weirdest detours. But Fletch decided not to mention that to Olivia; she’d probably die laughing and make a T-shirt about it, trying to convince people she was, no need to hype the woman up anymore than necessary. Thinking about it, Olivia was like some kind of cartoon puppy, walking into disastrous situations at the beginning of the episode and somehow, oblivious to everything around her, winning the lottery or making friends with everyone at the end.

Fletch was a master diver, cave spelunker and cave diver. Speaker of two languages, able to curse in three more. Twenty-three years old with the patience of a saint, and the bedside manner of a god (for when your cave buddy tries to move against doctor’s orders) and  the world record for kills in an hour playing Lego batman. Fletch was an accountant, (hence the deep hatred of the IRS for reasons unknown). Cave spelunking was something done in the off-season and the odd weekend off in season. There was nothing like cave spelunking (except diving) to get the body raring and ready to go, the muscle strain, the cave air and crevices. It was a different world. No one could bother you.

“FLETCH!” Unless you were buddied with Olivia. Fletch turned to see Olivia, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt smeared with wood stain jogging in her direction. Fletch sighed, she’d been so looking forward to eating her food in peace. She looked mournfully at her plate and waved Olivia over.

“Remind me why I invited you over to my place.” Fletch asked, amused.

“So I can sand and stain that crappy dresser you spray painted black last weekend. And you called me to talk.” Olivia replied, “And you love me and my glorious food.”

Fletch laughed and snorted, “I made us lunch today bane of my existence.”

“Semantics.” Olivia said, rolling her eyes and flicking her hand in a shooing motion.

“Says the Anthropologist who went into communications.”

“Is there a difference?”

“You tell me. What do you want heathen?”

“I’m done, I wanted to let you know before I go use your shower. Can’t have a repeat of last year.” Olivia said with smirk. Fletch glared; Olivia had come over to help her toss an old couch. Fletch had driven to the dump while Olivia took a shower to rinse off all the dust. Fletch was alarmed at the shower running, having forgotten Olivia remained behind and promptly called the police. Fletch was mortified initially, until Olivia decided to mercilessly tease her about it.

“I regret calling the police on you only because you won’t shut up about it anymore.” Fletch groaned. Olivia laughed and tossed her a package.

“Take a look over that, I got one in the mail, let me know if you’re interested.” Olivia grinned, before she walked across the patio and back into the house.

Fletch looked over the package. A manila envelope, stuffed with papers. She pushed her plate aside and sat down at the table, She pulled out the papers, and began to look through them. It was a packet exactly like the one she’d received the previous day

To Olivia Ordmann and Bonnie Fletch,

My name is Danielle Reager, Deputy Director of Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. I am writing on behalf of Carlsbad Caverns and our research initiative: Altman Enterprises. The Park has recently discovered a new cave pool. You were both recommended by various sources, and upon reading through your qualifications and experience, we decided to request your assistance. This would be a research initiative to discover the extent of the cave, map it, determine safety levels for divers and researchers, possible hazards, and any forms of life, new or otherwise. 

It is well established that both of you are accomplished cave divers. Your experience in the Triangle and it’s cave maze would be indispensable, as would Ms. Ordmann’s extensive training. We were told by various members of our archaeological staff and dive team that they’d be happy to have the both of you.

It is the goal of Carlsbad Caverns to establish extensive knowledge of the areas within our boundaries, including cave pools. The research initiative is funded through the next two years, and with this in mind we’d like to offer you full-time positions for the next two years. Failing that, we’d like to offer you full time positions for the next two summers.

I’ve included the basic information we’ve compiled on the cave from initial probing and data collection. No one has attempted anything other than a few initial exploratory dives, all within visibility from the surface; we are gathering researchers and determining what supplies and instruments this cave pool exploration will require.

We’d love to have you both as a members of our team. Feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns. The complied research is still being added to as we speak. I’ve also complied the contact information of the current dive and research team involved should you have further questions for them.

Sincerely,

Danielle Reager

Deputy Director of Carlsbad Caverns

Fletch’s brow was furrowed in concentration as she read through the rest of the files. She’d hardly glanced at it yesterday, too tired from work. From the sounds of it, the dive team believed the cave to be extensive and deep, given that the pool extended past the cave walls, but not into the next room. There was little undertow and the water had twenty feet of clarity. There was more research in regards to water quality and plant life, but Fletch skimmed over it. The initial cave pool was rather large and pictures had been included.

This was how Olivia found Fletch an hour later: reading through documents and munching absent-mindedly. Olivia knew better than to interrupt Fletch, so she went inside, made a plate of food and came back out, content to enjoy the quiet. Finally Fletch pulled off her glasses and rubbed her eyes.

“Why did you get this in the mail?” She asked.

“Because it was addressed to me.”

“Right. You know who these ‘sources’ she’s talking about are?” Fletch asked, tiredly rubbing at the bridge of her nose.

“Jenau, LeBlanc, Tracy, Wilson, and Greg. Those assholes are probably laughing their asses off. You know Greg, Tracy and LeBlanc are spending the summer hitting their favorite dive sites? Dicks.”

“We can complain about them not inviting us later, this is some great stuff. June to August, it’d be risky, but what way to spend the summer. Did you see who’s on their dive team?”

“Charles Beau? Man is a beast. I once saw him drink three guys under the table, one after the other.”

“Not to mention his notations, he thinks this one will be tricky, but he’s pretty sure they’ve got aquatic life, really deep. He wants to bring in dry suits, that’s a no brainer. They’ve got lodging they can provide for us, and they’ll give us a meal stipend as well.”

“Sounds like you’re interested.” Olivia said, leaning forward, eyes cautiously optimistic.

“This is basically an adventure we get paid for. Though I might do it with half-pay, I honestly haven’t looked at the financial packet yet.”

“It’s in the back, we’ve got a few weeks to prep for this and I’ve got some calls to make.” Olivia said, a grin threatening to split her face in half, “You’re sure about this Fletch? No pressure from me on anything, you can spend your summer doing something else.”

“Please, we’re exploring a cave pool. We’re like Indiana Jones’s but better.”

Olivia gave a wide almost maniacal grin.

“This is going to be absolutely fantastic.”

And thus began the summer Fletch would eventually dub “Near Death Experiences and how to Experience them”

 

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