Author Notes: Also known as Crackfic for Wert. My last entry was far too serious. This is not. The theme for this story is lovingly borrowed from a story very close to my heart. Of course, I bastardize it completely for the sake of comedy, but it's me so what do you expect?


It was a dark and stormy night. So, yeah. You know this is going to turn out well. Like Crest Whitestrips, Michael's knuckles whitened as he gripped the steering wheel and guided his PT Cruiser through the blackness and the downpour that threatened to run him off the road. Lightning crashed around him, causing him to jump a little in his seat and to grip the wheel ever tighter. There was a sudden motion to his right and a click-

"Ice, Ice Baby..."

"What decade is this?" muttered Ryan, as he fiddled with the stereo in a vain attempt to find something in Michael's CD collection that didn't suck.

"Jeez, cut it out, will you?" complained an extra-jumpy Michael. "Turn that off, I'm driving."

Pam sighed from his passenger seat. "Michael, it's just that we can't take the uncomfortable silence anymore. If you want to talk instead..."

"NO!" shouted Michael. "I mean. Um... no. I don't want to talk about it. And I know Ryan doesn't want to talk about it either. Now, normally I would give this great uplifting speech that would knock your socks off and make you feel like you're walking on sunshine instead of moping about how you screwed up again, and then say something about not worrying because you're bound to make your first sale eventually, but I can't do that at the moment because I have to concentrate on my driving instead of my talking because I don't want to crash. Because the bumper of this car is held on with duct tape."

"What?" shouted Pam. Ryan wanted to shout the same thing, but he was still too upset to talk. "That's not good. We kind of need that to survive."

"It's nothing. I just ran over a median when me and Dwight went on that spy mission to the family paper company formerly known as Prince and I haven't bothered to get it fixed yet," he squinted into the darkness. "Dammit. I can't see a thing."

"If we crash and die this will officially be the worst business trip ever."

Ryan was skeptical. "I don't know... I can think of a few that went worse. It could be a blessing..."

"Shut up, you two," Michael complained. "We are not going to die. I'd say that this is only our fifth worst. Fourth max. And another thing - Oh SHIT!"

With a deafening CRACK! and a blinding flash, the PT Cruiser was simultaneously struck by lightning and a rogue maple tree. Then everything went dark and silent except for the music softly playing...

"I like big butts and I can not lie..."

----

"I think I was right," said Pam, with absolutely no satisfaction whatsoever. "This is the worst business trip ever. And I didn't even have to make chainsaw noises."

"Hey, at least the bumper held up better than we thought," stated Ryan. Yes, the good thing was that the bumper survived completely intact. The bad thing was that it was completely intact about twenty feet away from the car. The rest of the car, not so good of shape.

Michael sat on the soggy ground, watching glumly as the ruins of his PT Cruiser were lifted onto the back of a flatbed towtruck. "I had sex with Holly in the back of that car," he mumbled to himself. "Now I don't have any cars that I've had sex in anymore."

"Michael..." Pam shushed him, and the tow truck driver gave him a funny look. "It's only a car. There are more important things to life than cars with sentimental value. At least we're all still alive."

"We get to skip work today," added Ryan, cheerfully.

Michael bolted upright from his seated position, sending rivulets of muddy water flying like a wet dog. "Oh, we're going in today," he said, with frightening conviction, a steely hard determination glistening in his cold, cold eyes. "Oh yes. We are. Going in. Today."

The glare induced shivers in its audience. "Michael, you're scaring me," whimpered Ryan.

"Michael, we were just in a car accident. We've probably all got whiplash, we're all muddy, we've been on the road for days," Pam rationalized, correctly and sanely as was usual and far too common. "We should all just go home and recoup from this horrible, horrible... horribleness."

"Do you really want to hang your head in shame, Pam? Do you really want to have to say that this trip beat you? Beat you like a rented pig? Because if you just go home, that's just what you'll have to say. So what you are going to do is you are going to go to work and you're going to hold your head up high and thumb your nose at the events of this day! You are going to go there and you are going to make us proud!" Michael paused for a second, having lost his train of thought. "Also, both your cars are still there so if you went straight home you'd have to get a cab or carpool or something in the morning."

Despite every objection Pam and Ryan could think to raise, Michael was right on that one point. Pam just wanted to run up to Jim, hug him, then go home and sleep away the rest of the day. Even though the sun was barely up at this point. Ryan just wanted his car back. Either way, the relented to Michael's pleas for them to go to the office this morning, just for a little bit that was. Hug, car, home, done. That was it.

So they cabbed it the remaining 40 miles to the office. Michael's enthusiastic, "Mi Amigoes, we'resa back!" was met with an apathetic sea of shrugging with some mild cringing that went largely unnoticed by Michael, and largely repressed by Pam and Ryan. Actually, the only person who even looked up at their arrival was Dwight, to no one's surprise, who, upon taking in their disheveled and muddy states, bolted to his feet, screaming in alarm. To no one's surprise.

"Michael! Who did this to you? Please let me smite them! Do you need to be driven to the hospital? Do you want me to notify the dry cleaners?" he stood, tilted forward in great attentiveness and sycophantic eagerness to please.

"No, Dwight. And -" he noticed that Dwight didn't look so sheveled either. "Ugh, and that beard looks stupid on you. Come on, Dwight. We tried that already and Ryan and I decided that it was stupid. God." He shook his head in annoyance.

Dwight looked hurt, like an overgrown and not particularly athletic or well groomed kicked puppy. "But Michael. You said that you liked the beard."

"Well, there was a time when they were fashionable but that time has passed. A long, long time ago. Like, summer 2008. Blech. You know, forget it. Just go back to work and call my dry cleaner."

Ignoring the all too familiar scene playing out in front of her, Pam walked over to her preferred target who, from what she could tell, was doing his best restrained enthusiasm performance, barely and shyly peaking over at her from behind his computer with a tiny grin. So she sauntered up to him and enveloped him in a huge hug from behind. But instead of hugging her back like she'd been expecting, Jim went stiff (not in the skeevy way - although probably that too) and his face registered a look of shock.

"Jim? What's wrong?" she asked full of worry. "Oh, right. I'm all covered in mud. Sorry. I hope that wasn't a good shirt." He nodded, sadly. "Um... sorry. I'll just... go... over here..."

Pam crept back to her desk, a little embarrassed by the muddy faux pas. Oh well. She would make it up to him later. And definitely in the skeevy way. When she sat down to check her email, something different about the office caught her eye...

Finally they'd gotten rid of that awful Homer Simpson doll. Too bad he had been replaced by Peter Griffin, but that was a change she could live with.

The three weary travelers settled in to work, not realizing that they were being watched by a distant, malevolent force...