Near Death Experiences: The Fight

Absolute chaos. Overturned tables, chairs strewn across the room, cracks in the wooden flooring; all leading towards the kitchen door. Olivia could see further damage through the kitchen windows. Police officers and animal control were taking statements from the jarred patrons. Small children were being consoled by their parents. What happened here?

A burly looking police officer with a fantastic mustache was speaking gently to a small girl as she curled into her father’s arms. Another stood off to the side watching the conversation intently, twirling her pen in her hands

“Tell me what you saw Bea, ain’t nothin’ gonna happen to you while me and Peggy are here.” Mustache said.

The girl shyly looked at mustache and at the female officer before staring up at her father. He smiled and nodded at her. She seemed to compose herself for a moment before speaking in a soft drawl.

“We was eatin’ lunch an’ papa was giving me airplane veggies an’ there was a real big bang ‘ginst the door an’ it was Tommy! But he wasn’t nice like normal. He was real fursterated. Like papa when Romo loses his shit,” At this her father turned bright red and the officers chuckled.

“What happened next Bea?” Mustache asked with a smile. She paused to take a breath and continued.

“Papa, was pulling me ‘neath the table but I’s kept lookin. Tommy banged on the door real hard and there was a real big crack and he came through. Normly he just hungry but he was weird. There was this weird lookin thing on him.” At this the officers glanced at each other.

“What kind of thing?” The flipy pen asked Bea. Bea scrunched her nose.

“It was a dragon.” The group around her did a double take.

“A dragon?” Her father asked.

“Well yeah, it had a real long beak an’ a beaver tail an’ spikes on its back. Bobby told me dragons have webbed feet though,” she trailed off for a moment, “I didn’t see ’em though. Bobby says dragons have teeth but it didn’t open its mouth cause it was clamped onto Tommy real tight.”

During this exchange our duo stood quietly, not wanting to interfere. Fletch wanted to know why the hell this Tommy had caused so much damage. Olivia wanted to know where the hell Tommy encountered a platypus.

“Okay Bea, I appreciate all your help. I’m giving your Papa my card so you can call if you remember anything else.” Mustache said. Bea nodded solemnly and reached out her hand. Mustache shook it and bopped her nose prompting a giggle before turning to his fellow officer. 

“Peggy, haul Rich into questioning, find out how the hell Jimmy got out, Rich is a ornery bastard, but he wouldn’t let Jimmy out to save his own skin. Try and find out what the hell kind of creature was biting Jimmy.” Mustache told flipy pen.

“You got it Greg.” Said Peggy, scribbling across a notepad before closing it, tipping her hat (Olivia couldn’t help but smile at the cowboy hat, a standard for all law enforcement in Texas), and turning to leave. She froze when she spotted Olivia and Fletch at the door. Olivia took that moment to speak.

“Excuse me ma’am, we couldn’t help but over hear something about a platypus attached to someone.” Fletch resisted the impulse to face palm. Peggy narrowed her eyes.

“Platypus?”

Olivia looked a bit nervous now.

“The ‘dragon’ the girl was describing, it was a platypus. Duck billed, beaver tail with fur that sticks up when threatened.” Peg stared at Olivia.

“Hey Greg!” Peg called. Mustache Greg walked over.

“What’s going on Peg?”

“These two know the thing that was hanging on to Tommy.” Peg said with much skepticism. Greg’s mustache intensified his slight frown.

“It was a platypus sir.”

“That little green thing on Disney?” Greg asked. Olivia and Fletch looked a bit startled at his connection. They both had younger siblings and often spent finals procrastinating with the show.

“I’ve got a six year old.” Fletch nodded. Olivia shrugged, she still watched her favorite cartoons to destress sometimes.

“Yes sir. A platypus. They’re not native to Texas, but it’s the one that matches the description.” Greg sighed and gestured to animal control.

“It looks like a platypus that got a grip on Tommy.” Animal control looked a bit surprised.

“I’m surprised it bit him. Those guys try to spur you. Unless it was a female. Tommy must have found his way into the pens over in Milbarch’s back yard again. We’ll round up some darts and take care of it right quick Greg. You’ll be writing up the report by three and home by five.” Greg and Peg were nodding like this was an every day occurrence.

“I knew I was gonna regret the day that woman brought back playtpuses. Most people bring t-shirts and snow globes. She had to have platypuses.” Greg sighed. Peg piped up.

“She’s the one on the east outskirts right? She said somebody came by and cut up fences on the southwest border of the swamp this morning.” Greg nodded sharply and gestured to the animal control bros.

“Fred, Frank, you’ve got the lead on this. Milbarch and Rich are both damn good trackers, they’ll be able to help. I’d be much obliged if you wrapped this up right quick. I’ve still got to check in on that idiot who lit his truck on fire and find the ladies who were tyrin’ to slow ’em down.”

Fletch glanced at Olivia.

“That would be us.” Olivia said calmly. It took all Fletch had not to beat her over the head with a stick. She settled for closing her eyes 

“The two of you were driving the car which attempted to force the vehicle of one Mr. Richard Cox to slow?” Fletch tried not to snicker she really did. Peg eyed Fletch.

“Do you find this situation amusing?” Peg asked. Fletch shook her head.

“No ma’am.” Fletch said, barely keeping it together. Peg eyed her quietly. Privately Olivia thought Peg might find the name they gave Little Dick amusing.

“How is he?” Olivia asked.

“He’s banged up, but he’ll live.” It was a quintessential Texan answer from mustache Greg, “We busted his tires and he fell out tryin’ to outrun us. Damn fool ended up running right towards the flames. He’s up in the clinic. Nothing serious. The doctor patched him up. He’s on his way over to Parkland down in Dallas just to double check.”

A crash was heard from the kitchens. Fletch winced at the though of the broken plates. Peg sighed and moved back to check.

“I swear to god I’m going to-”

A massive bear burst through the kitchen doors, shaking its head back and forth, a brown ball moving from side to side as it did so.

“It’s Tommy!” Peg shouted, diving to the side to get out of his way. Mustache, Olivia and Fletch followed suit, hiding behind the still upturned tables. Peg and Mustache pulled out their guns, aiming at the brown bear, trying and failing to dislodge the platypus at its neck.

“What the fuck are you doing?!” Olivia hissed.

“Saving our lives.” Greg snapped.

“Not with a fucking pistol. You’re going to make Tommy angry as fuck.” Fletch snapped, “You need a rifle or some goddamned tranqs. Better yet, get the fucking platypus off of him!”

Olivia watched fletch argue with mustache in shock and partial amusement. Fletch’d had a long day and poor mustache was going to get the brunt of it. Tommy roared and ran towards the counter ramming himself against it. He didn’t hit the platypus and smashed his head, enraging him, but making him stumble dizzily.

“Fletch! Throw me that broom!” Olivia hissed. Without thinking, Fletch tossed her the broom. Olivia caught it and crept behind the bear.

“Shit! Olivia!” Fletch hissed, panicking. Olivia got lined up the bat with the platypus and swung. Peg and Greg were already in motion moving towards her. The platypus was hit with a dull thunking noise. It made a strange squealing sound, vaguely reminiscent of squeaky rubber and a duck call. Tommy let out a groan before standing on his hind limbs and turning to face them

 

 

 

“And that’s about when we tore out of there and you two showed up.” Peg said to the Animal Control bros, Fred and Frank. Frank grinned.

“Damn, I’d a sure like to see that hit though. Besides, Tommy is about as gentle as a pussy cat when he’s not bothered. Though he’ll be a bit grumpy to find himself in the woods again, those tranqs knocked him right out.”

The group was standing outside the dinner, every civil service vehicle surrounding them including what appeared to be the only ambulance in town. Fletch made them check over Olivia repeatedly, citing, “She hit a platypus off an angry bear with a broom” as her reasoning. Olivia couldn’t argue that one. A second ambulance pulled up. The paramedics hopped out.

“Anything we can do to help Greg?” Girl Paramedic asked

“Yeah, check over these two and make sure they’re fine.”  Mustache said, gesturing to Fletch and Peg.

The two protested vehemently but were sat down on the edge of the ambulance and checked over. Olivia came trotting over to them once she had been cleared. Her wrist was wrapped but she appeared otherwise unharmed.

“Hell of a day huh Fletch?” She asked. Fletch leaned against the gurney.

“I don’t know about you, but I prefer to spend my time trying to save people’s lives in dangerous car chases and hitting platypuses with brooms.” Fletch snarked with a smirk. Olivia laughed.

“Yeah, but at least the dude got stopped and didn’t get blown up by his truck.”

“You two were the bitches who ran me down?!” Came a voice from the ambulance. Fletch looked up at the gurney confused. It was Sir Little Dick.

“We didn’t run you down sir.” Olivia said with a frown as the angry figure emerged from the ambulance, bypassing Peg and Fletch. Peg was up and heading towards him when the first punch was thrown.

Olivia leapt back as Richard Cox, (better known to our readers as little dick) took a swing at her. His eyes were darkened with rage, his bandaged arm free of its sling. He seemed to be limping. Olivia was terrified.

“You fucking bitch! You cost me my car!” He shouted, spittle flying from his mouth. Olivia was rapidly backpedaling almost to the front of the diner. His swings were flying closer to her.

“Hold on just a second-” His fist caught her in the stomach.

“I won’t hold on for shit!” He grabbed her and shoved her against the wall of the diner. Olivia took the opportunity to knee him in his short and curlies following with a punch to the gut and throat. He keeled over, gasping for breath, alternatively clutching his throat and his crotch.

A yell had Olivia leaping out of the way as Fletch jumped on his back. The force of the landing had him pitch forward straight into the wall. A crunch made them wince. Fletch rolled off of him and looked ready to kick him in the ribs. Olivia settled for spinning him around and kneeing him again.

Greg chose this moment to taser the shit out of Olivia. She hit the ground. Hard

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Near Death Experiences: The Chase

Fred Buchanan had been a police officer for five years. He patrolled his little town, knew everyone, could name the birthday’s of all the children, and knew just what to say to calm down Jeff Stevens when he got into his cups. He’d pulled over speeders, because that was really some great income. It was an mildly irritating, time consuming part of his work life. Fred was currently making his way out of town, to switch with Greg Omber at the speed trap. His radio crackled to life. A Texas drawl could be heard.

“Hey Fred we’ve got reports of a high speed car race headed our way.” It was Dennis Monk, the dispatcher. Fred frowned. This was something he’d never anticipated.

“Gotcha, description and direction Dennis.” His country accent thick and low.

“Black Honda with a lady at the wheel and a big-ass truck, modified, oversized tires, the works, adolescent male driver. North bound. It looked like the Honda was trying to edge into the tuck’s lane. Said the Honda was almost completely ahead of it. I reckon you’ve got ten minutes tops before they blow by the back cut.”

Fred sighed. He needed to stop asking for interesting days.

“Radio Greg, Peggy, and Jim, we need to clear the road and set up some tire shredders. I’ll grab the back road with Peggy and see about cuttin’ ’em off.”

“You got it boss. Want me to call in the others?”

“Please and thank you.”

Fred accelerated and headed towards the one road which might let them cut off these damn fools. his radio crackled again.

“Fred it’s Peg, my ETA to the 35 crossing is ten minutes.” Peggy Black was a deputy who they affectionately called the Speed Demon. She was probably twenty minutes away, but knowing her she’d be at the crossing in ten, come hell or high water.

“Rodger, I’ll see you there.” Fred radioed back. He floored it and road the curves of the road, knowing it’d be close. Fred cocked his head, he could swear he could hear an engine. He leaned forward, the car engines were louder now; just as 35 came into view he saw them racing by, the Honda straddling both lanes, the truck right on it’s ass. Fred blanched. The truck was on fire.

“Dispatch come in!” He barked, lights and siren on full blast, his car pivoting around the curve, shooting towards the speeding cars.

“This is despatch.”

“The caller mention anything about flames?!” Fred barked. The truck kept trying to swerve around the Honda.

“No.” Dennis sounded confused.

“The whole back of the goddamned truck is on fire and she didn’t think to mention it?!”

 

Meanwhile in the Honda: Fletch groaned in frustration. Blue and red lights in the mirror. This would be fun to explain.

“We’ve got cops!” Fletch exclaimed.

“I know, I know.” Olivia said, shoulders tight, constantly glancing from the road to the mirror. She eased on the gas, hoping to slow this idiot down. The cop was easily gaining. A second police car appeared behind them. This one gaining even faster.

“We got another one coming in hot!”

“Fletch! This isn’t a war movie!”

“It better not turn into one!”

“Keep an eye little dick!”

“He’s freaking out about the cop cars.” Olivia grinned at Fletch’s words. Asshole. True to Fletch’s words, Little Dick had a panicked look on his face, glancing between the police cars and our intrepid duo.

Fletch kept looking back and was debating whether or not to start flipping this dude off.

“Don’t do it.” Olivia said. Fletch pouted. Olivia eased off just a bit more. Little Dick’s truck bumped them.

“Come on, slow down.” Olivia muttered. Suddenly little dick decided to be more stupid. He took advantage of the nearby curving shoulder to accelerate and veer around Olivia.

His truck seemed suspended in the air for a moment, flames flickering slowly as he arched over the hill. He landed hand and accelerated quickly, speeding back onto the freeway. Olivia and Fletch glanced at each other before pulling over to let the police pass them. No need to get involved if the police were here.

As the police cars zoomed by Fletch rubbed her eyes. She was too young for this shit. Olivia slowed the car and pulled over, turning the engine off. She turned to look at Fletch expectantly, waiting for her to move.

“Become an accountant mom said, nice stable job mom said, you’ll have long vacations after tax season.” Fletch muttered under her breath, “THIS IS NOT A NICE VACATION DAMMIT!” She shouted indignantly. Olivia’s face was blank as she handed Fletch a water bottle. She chugged it and then got out of the car and paced back and forth for a good ten minutes before returning to the car. She stood by the drivers side door and gestured to Olivia.

With a jaunty grin, Olivia hopped out and tossed Fletch the keys.

“Don’t hurt yourself.” Olivia called as Fletch drove to an empty field, perpendicular to the road. She got a middle finger in response. Fletch spent the next thirty minutes venting her frustration doing donuts and trying her best to get as much dirt and grass all over the tires and car. By the time she was done, the field looked like a bunch of drunk aliens had attempted to carve a landing pad.

Fletch pulled back up to Olivia, who was busily snapping photos, a mildly impressed look on her face.

“It looks like a bunch of drunk aliens tried to land. 9 out of 10.” Fletch looked offended at her words.

“Bitch, that fucking deserved a 10 and you know it.” Fletch said, tossing the keys to her friend. Olivia rolled her eyes and grinned.

“Please, look at the lines over there on the right, sloppy cover up for a shitty donut.” She slipped into the car, Fletch moving to the other side. As she stepped in she snarked, “Says the woman who couldn’t slow down a little dick with a free and clear road.”

Olivia playfully narrowed her eyes and stuck out her tongue.

“You’re just mad you weren’t driving.” Fletch felt a light blush spread across her cheeks. Olivia let out a laugh. Fletch was well known to her town’s sheriff as one of the most infamous street racers. Suffice to say, Fletch was a speed demon. With one more chuckle, Olivia pulled off the shoulder and onto the blacktop.

Thirty minutes later (at twenty miles below the speed limit) they found themselves in a tiny town called Greene. Olivia pulled into the single available parking space in front of a diner. Fletch and Olivia had spent the drive debating the best way to go about approaching the police. They decided food was more important. They stalked up to the diner doors.

And met absolute pandemonium and horror.

Near Death Experiences: The Drive

The one bonus aspect of being Olivia’s friend were the epic road trips. Epic in that she could make you laugh so hard your abs would be sore the next day. Snacks, music, and humor were always involved. Running gags and lewd jokes were the theme this time around and both Fletch and Olivia were trying to outdo each other with “that’s what she said jokes.” In all honesty this was probably what brought them together in the first place.

They were driving up to Carlsbad from Dallas, a city they loved, with constant construction they hated, Fletch more so. Fletch could rattle off the names of every single construction site in Dallas, that’s how much she ranted about it. Olivia took it in stride considering Fletch put up with her crazy conversational tangents.

This is where we find out intrepid duo, Olivia the optimistic driver whilst Fletch the fervent fiercely facilitates her fiery fury about construction.

“…it’s been fifteen years! You think they’d be done by now!” Fletch exclaims, gesturing wildly, a bottle of water in her left hand. She nearly brains Olivia who merely moves her head to the side. Olivia has a pleasant smile on her face, enjoying her friend’s grumblings. She’d heard Fletch complain about the roads so much, she could predict Fletch’s next comment.

Said comment is forestalled by a huge truck, engine roaring, music blaring as it passes by; the driver is a college aged male, wearing a snap back, sunglasses, and a polo. Fletch rolled her eyes. Combine his outfit with the 4×4 truck with oversized tires, and the black smoke billowing our the back, Fletch deemed the truck driving gentleman: Sir Mini-Penis.

Olivia and Fletch glanced at each other and then back at the road before rolling their eyes. Olivia took a long drink of her water.

“Do you think there’s a formula for the ratio of truck to dick size?” Fletch asked. Olivia choked on her water, coughing severely. Fletch pounded her on the back as Olivia wiped the tears from her eyes.

“I don’t know, you’re the number cruncher.” She finally said, once she’d regained her breath. Fletch cocked her head for a moment, as if considering something before shaking her head.

“Nah, too much effort right now. Besides, it more of a data than number issue.” Fletch said with a chuckle. Olivia rolled her eyes, and focused on the road. Fletch picked back up on her road ramble, and all was well again.

A few hours passed before they saw Sir Little Dick’s truck in the rearview mirror. I say saw, they heard the blaring music long before it was even a speck in the distance. Fletch still doesn’t understand how it was possible. Olivia claimed it was the power of the douche. Fletch figured that was the best explanation she’d heard and the only one she’d ever get.

The intrepid duo change lanes in anticipation for Little Dick’s need for speed. And they wait. But not for long.

It takes a second before either Olivia or Fletch can fully comprehend it, but it appears Sir Little Dick’s truck is literally blazing by. His muffler is dragging on the ground. Sir Little Dick’s Truck, and Olivia’s Honda. Fletch groans; this is the exact situation she wanted to avoid this summer.

“Fletch-“

“I’m on it.” Fletch sighs, pulling out her phone to call the police. Hopefully they’ll be able to pull over this dude. Fletch’s phone immediately stops the call. The car accelerates.

“What the hell are you doing?!” Fletch demands.

“I trying to catch this pendejo!”

“WHY?!” 

“Because his car is on fire!! And we’re in the middle of nowhere!” Olivia exclaimed. 

“Why not call the cops?!”

“We’re in the middle of fucking Texas in a fucking valley! There’s no goddamned service anywhere!” Olivia shouts. They’re both panicking at this point. Fletch whimpers and slides down in her seat, clutching the sides of her chair. The speedometer is ticking closer to 100 now.

“What’s your plan?” Fletch moans. She hates it when this happens. Olivia looks intense, and at the question begins to chew her lip. Brow furrowing in thought. Fletch bangs her head against the window. She doesn’t have a plan.

“Okay, let NOT wing this dangerous thing we’re currently doing.” Fletch says. Olivia shoots her a glare. They’re gaining on Sir Little Dick’s truck, the fire still low to the ground.

“ROAD!” Fletch shouts. Olivia jerks the wheel a bit. She glares at Fletch again before biting out, “Don’t freak me out like that!”

“Don’t make dangerous decisions!”

“We can’t let him die!”

“Statistically improbable!”

“You’d feel guilty for a decade!”

“You’d feel guilty your whole life!”

There was a pause. Olivia thought about it for a moment, then nodded.

“I’m going to get in front of him and slow down until I can block the whole road.”

Fletch paused at Olivia’s words. It was probably their only option. A crazy dangerous option, but really their only option. Fletch glanced at her phone. No signal. Probably another twenty miles before they had any, and another eighty before a police officer would be close enough to stop Little Dick.

“That’s going to be dangerous.”

“Yeah but what’s life without danger.” Olivia said with a grin.

“Why are we friends again?” Fletch muttered. She held up her hand as Olivia opened her mouth, “That was rhetorical Ordmann!”

Tiny Dick’s bumper was on fire now. Olivia was less than twenty feet away. However it seemed Tiny Dick did not appreciate people being so close to his compensation, sorry, car. He accelerated, pulling away from them.

“What the hell dude!” Olivia exclaimed indignantly, “We’re trying to save your ass!” Fletch rolled her eyes.

Olivia narrowed her eyes, eyed the gas gauge, and floored it. Fletch lurched backwards into her seat while Olivia began to weave through the turns.

“Oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god.” Fletch whispered under her breath. She spared a glance at Olivia. A joyful grin was spread across her face. She was enjoying this?! Fletch thought to herself. This bitch was such a damn speed demon. Fletch searched the road helplessly for another car, grappling with her phone, holding it up to find our intrepid duo still without signal.

On Olivia’s end, she was enjoying the ride; oh sure, she was nervous and had no idea what was going to happen, but like Fletch had said: she’d never be able to forgive herself if she could’ve done something and didn’t. It made more sense to enjoy the ride. So, much to Fletch and Tiny Dick’s dismay, she began to overtake the truck.

If she’d cared to glance at Tiny Dick, she’d have noted he was rather irate and gesturing rudely. Fletch however did notice, and decided file it away for when Olivia inevitably saved this dude. It’d be great to rub in his face when he realized what an asshole he’d been. Fletch pondered for a moment if she had the potential to be as petty as congress. Nah, she didn’t have the time for that.

Olivia was almost ahead of Tiny Dick when she saw another car ahead in the distance.

“Oh shit.” She muttered. Fletch straightened. That car was going to get rear ended if Olivia didn’t pull some fancy schmancy driving. Olivia began to edge over into Tiny Dick’s lane. Tiny Dick was now clearly making all sorts of lewd gestures and yelling. Our duo didn’t even have to ignore him, they simply couldn’t give two shits about his inadequacies

“Fletch roll down your window and tell him his dick is on fire!” Olivia ordered. Fletch gave her an incredulous look.

“A bit late for that since we’re passing him isn’t it?” 

“Fletch!”

“Fine.” Fletch grumbled. She rolled her window down. For some reason Tiny Dick decided to turn off his music and roll down his window. Not to listen to Fletch, but to yell at her.

“You fucking bitches! What the fucking hell do y’all think you’re doing?!” He screamed. Fletch was irritated now. They were going 120 and a mile away from a tiny little Mazda. So Fletch did the only thing she could do. She threw her water bottle at him and rolled up her window. Olivia was straddling both lanes now. 

“We wouldn’t be in this situation if this idiot payed attention. Olivia, make this little dick suffer. ” Fletch spat. Olivia groaned.

“If we die Fletch, I’m blaming you.”

“Fine, but you owe me ice cream.”

Olivia pulled in front of Little Dick, she was a car length a head. He eyes flickering between the road ahead and the Little Dick behind. for every swerve Little Dick made, Olivia cut him off, all the while, forcing him to slow. The Mazda was close, and Olivia made an executive decision. She straddled both lanes, hoping to keep little Dick from blasting off and praying the Mazda would stay in its lane. 

No plan survives first contact with the enemy. Or Mazdas. The little Mazda decided to be smart but inconvenient for the purposes of Olivia’s goals. It pulled off on the side of the road, hoping the Crazy Honda Lady and Little Dick (we later find out Mazda driver calls him Compensator) will pass her.

Crazy Honda Lady and Compensator pass Mazda, who’s frantically phoning the police. She miraculously has a signal. The conversation which follows is reminiscent of a bunch of old people yelling “What?!?”, as the crazed drivers blow by.  Mazda, in her frantic panic, failed to notice the black smoke and flames emanating from Compensation’s truck, though given that his exhaust is fucked up, and she was freaked out, the mistake is understandable. Somehow Mazda gets the message across: two crazy drivers on 35 trying to kill each other. She gets a response that leaves her relieved. Four squad cars and a bunch of tacks are being dispatched.

A quarter-mile ahead, Olivia gets a gut feeling things around going to get plenty more complicated.

 

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”