The bright, fluorescent lights of Dunder Mifflin had long since gone out, but Dwight was still at his desk. Illuminated by the glow of one singular lamp in the corner, he was putting the finishing touches on what he had deemed “the prank to end all pranks.”
Dwight certainly had a temper and a knack for concocting evil schemes, but he could never get it right when it came to exacting a perfect revenge. He had fallen victim to dozens, maybe even hundreds, of Jim’s pathetic little tricks over the years, yet he could never create a comeback that gave the prankster exactly what he deserved.
But this Halloween, Dwight was determined to change that.
It had been fairly simple, actually. He had just needed to pinpoint the things that Jim hated. Easy. Spiders, small spaces, simple things that never gave Dwight enough to work with. But he had recently found it. Jim’s kryptonite. Something that made his face flush, palms sweat, and heart race.
Being alone with Pam.
Dwight had only recently noticed this phenomenon, but he had taken a quick interest to what was going on. Jim and Pam. Pam and Jim. Everybody knew that they were the best of friends. They were constantly stealing glances at each other from across the room, giggling over god-knows-what, and chatting over lunch. Just like friends do. But Dwight had noticed something else. Throughout his share of relationships, he’d picked up on the little things that he involuntarily did when interested in a woman– laughing at her jokes (however arbitrary they might be), taking part in her interests, reinstating a fizzled out conversation with plans for the weekend, and becoming defensive when an opponent entered the room (and in Jim’s pathetic case, shutting down when Roy approached Pam’s desk). He might have been crazy, but Dwight had a gut feeling that Jim was hiding something.
With Halloween falling on a work day, Dwight had concocted a plan to test his theory and get back at Jim all at once. It was simple, consisting of the three essential steps that made up any good Dwight Schrute scheme. Sabotage, Ensnare, Wait.
- Sabotage: After leaving the office long after hours, Dwight had performed some simple mechanical alterations to Pam’s car. Nothing irreversible, but it would certainly keep her from driving, and with Roy on vacation? There was only one person she would trust to take her in on Halloween.
- Ensnare: Again, simple rewiring. It would turn the elevator into a lockbox to which Dwight had the only key. A long portion of his preparation had been spent decorating the inside of the elevator with spiders, snakes, and a tiny microphone and audio output cleverly disguised as a pumpkin decal. It seemed a little bit more Big Brother than Dwight’s usual schemes, but he assured himself it would be well worth it. Jim and Pam would step in, the doors would close, and they wouldn’t open again until Dwight said so.
- Wait: A bin of pretzel rods sufficient for 24 hours of snacking was sitting by the door where Dwight would wait for the experiment’s conclusion. He was willing to utilize its full potential if necessary.
“After you,” Jim offered, holding the door open for Pam. He had to bring his hands out of his pockets and subject them to the chilly autumn wind, but it was worth it. Her smile was worth anything.
Pam grinned and ducked under his arm. “What a gentleman,” she replied, stepping into the building.
“I try,” Jim added, rubbing his palms together as he followed her in, the door shutting behind them. He stepped forward and hit the button for the elevator.
Pam leaned up against the wall to wait. “I still can’t believe you didn’t dress up,” she said. Her bumble bee antennae wobbled with her head shake of disapproval, but Jim protested.
“What are you talking about?” He unbuttoned his jacket to reveal the letters “L-I-F-E” taped to his shirt, the same white button-down that he had been wearing since he was hired.
Pam smirked, squinting an eye. “I don’t get it.”
Jim stared her down while reaching into his bag, pulling out a lemon and handing it to her. Pam laughed. “Alright, ‘when life gives you lemons.’ I see.”
Jim nodded, proud of himself. He put a hand out and Pam returned the prop. “I need that back to debunk other non-believers like yourself,” he informed her, putting the lemon into the pocket of his jacket. “See? Just because I don’t feel the need to dress up like a bug like some people,” he flicked Pam’s antenna, “doesn’t mean I’m not in the Halloween spirit.”
“No, yeah, I’ve been proven wrong.”
“It’s… very creative,” Pam admitted, laughing as the elevator doors opened. She stepped in slowly, observing the decorations filling the walls of the elevator. “Hm. Dwight got festive,” she noted, complimenting the building manager.
Jim nodded, looking around, pressing the button for their floor, then leaning up against the wall and pulling out his cell phone.
Suddenly, the elevator lurched with a massive creak. Jim grabbed the rail mounted on the wall to avoid being thrown. Pam chuckled.
“Lie down on the floor, that’s how you survive a free-falling elevator,” she joked, looking up at Jim. But she regretted the jab when she saw the all-too-real panic written all over his face. Her smile fell.
“H-Hey, I was just kidding,” she assured him. “See? We’re fine.”
Jim nodded. “Y-Yeah,” he muttered, tentatively letting go of the handrail. He reached over and hit the button intended to open the door. Intended to. It did nothing. They weren’t moving between floors, but the doors remained shut. Jim hit the button again. Nothing. Again. Nothing. Again. “Come on,” he mumbled, smacking the panel in frustration.
His panic was infectious and Pam soon found herself flustered. “Okay,” she declared. “Okay, okay, we can just… we can hit the call button!” She pressed the button intended to call an emergency force. Intended to, once again. No voice of hope or assistance, not even static. Just silence.
“Shit,” Jim whispered. He pulled out his phone again and scrolled. “Um… “ He pondered who could help them. Nobody in his contacts could be remotely effective in a situation like this. Except for one.
“What?” Pam questioned, peeking over his shoulder.
“I have, uh… I have Roy’s number,” Jim offered.
Pam looked at the floor, admitting what they both knew was true. “He’d know what to do.”
Jim nodded. “Isn’t he on vacation, though?”
“He gets back sometime today.”
“You could text him,” Pam replied, sinking against the wall and sitting down on the floor. Jim nodded and joined her on the ground, getting comfortable. It was going to be a long morning.
Morning turned into afternoon, and Roy still wasn’t there. He had responded to Jim’s message but seemed to have dropped off the face of the earth when it came to small talk.
“If we get really desperate, we can always eat your lemons,” Pam offered, laying on her back and staring up at the elevator ceiling. Jim chuckled, sitting against the wall. They had already gone through countless rounds of 20 Questions, concentration, chopsticks, and taken a power nap or two.
“Truth or dare,” Jim asked mindlessly.
Pam laughed quietly. “We’re in an elevator, how are we going to do dares?”
“Truth or truth?”
“Hmm,” Pam played along, suppressing giggles. “This is a toughie.”
Jim nodded solemnly. “A life-altering decision. Choose wisely.”
“I choose… truth!”
Jim chuckled. “Wow, okay, um… oh, what’s the worst grade you ever got in high school?” He adjusted himself so that he was laying down on the musty carpet next to Pam, staring up at the same fluorescent lights.
“I failed a World History test once,” Pam admitted.
“Failed? Or were you one of those kids who thinks that the world will explode if they get a ‘C+’?”
Pam laughed. “No, no, like an actual ‘F’, a big, red ‘F’ at the top of my paper.”
Jim chuckled. “Wow, Beesly, I had no idea that your backstory was so tragic.”
“Yup,” Pam nodded with a smile. “Now you. Truth or truth?”
“Truth,” Jim replied.
“Hmm… what is your favorite, uh… nevermind. Oh, okay, who do you have a crush on?”
Jim laughed out loud, stretching out on the floor of the elevator. “What are you, twelve?” He joked, pointing out that her question had a very middle-school-slumber-party vibe. But, there was an underlying sadness to his words that Pam just couldn’t place. She nudged him, rolling onto her side to face him.
“Come on, there’s got to be someone.”
“Yeah,” Jim said, sitting up and leaning against the wall. “There is a very special someone.”
“Who?” Pam sat up quickly, taking an immediate curiosity. It was mostly because she liked to know what was going on in her friends’ lives, but there was another reason. Deep down, she hoped that she had gotten the message across– she liked him. Pam Beesly liked Jim Halpert and she wanted to know if he felt the same way. “Who is it?”
“It’s a secret,” Jim mumbled, leaning in, “so you can’t tell anyone.”
“I promise,” Pam assured him, scooting closer, waiting, hoping she would hear her own name.
Jim sighed. “Okay, well… she works in our office…”
Pam nodded, intent.
“And she’s smart and funny… gorgeous.”
Pam nodded again, this time with an urgency.
Jim looked down at the floor, picking at the carpet. He took a deep breath and then locked eyes with Pam before saying the mystery girl’s name aloud. “Phyllis.”
Pam cocked her head, trying not to smile as Jim surrendered to a fit of laughter at his own joke. “Come on,” she complained, giving in to the grin. “That’s not funny,” she assured him through laughter of her own.
Jim sighed, recovering. “Why, what’s wrong? She’s smokin’ hot, Pam.”
“Yeah, yeah, seriously though.” Pam looked up at Jim and saw that same sadness in his eyes, back for more.
Jim shook his head. “Seriously, though, there’s nobody.”
“Really?” Pam didn’t believe him. “There has to be someone. Someone you think is nice or cute or something.”
Jim chuckled. His eyes were now fixed on the ground and he wasn’t planning on changing that any time soon.
Deep down, he knew that Pam wouldn’t freak out. Even if she didn’t like him back, Jim knew that nothing would change. They would stay friends. It wouldn’t get too weird. They had been dealing with co-workers assuming they were together or prying them for the details of their relationship for years. Nothing would change. But a voice in his head kept telling him that Pam would hate him. Their friendship would go up in flames with a single sentence. Jim knew that it was irrational, that he was just paranoid about losing his best friend. But then again, what if he wasn’t.
“Jim, I know you’re lying,” Pam said quietly. Her gaze never left his face, no matter how hidden away he may have been in his daze. “Come on, you can tell me anything,” she added, concern creeping into her tone. She had never seen Jim so distant, so unwilling to share.
He brought his hand to his face, sighing. He’d have to tell her sooner or later.
“Pam, I-” He stopped, looking up at her. The worry in her eyes left them sparkling with the bright curiosity that Jim loved so much. She was beautiful. Smart. Kind. Way out of his league. And, to top in all off, dating a jackass who could break Jim’s arm with his pinky finger. There was no way anything would ever happen.
But, then again, there was no way that Jim could live without her.
“Pam, I-” He hesitated. One deep breath later, and he knew that he had to speak his mind.
“You, Pam. It’s you. I like you.”
He looked down, picking at the carpet. He didn’t want to see her expression.
“I know,” he assured her. “I know. You’re with Roy. You’re too good for me, anywa-”
He tried to finish, to make sure she knew that it wasn’t her fault, that she didn’t owe him anything, but he lost all ability to protest once he felt Pam’s lips on his own. The silence of the elevator washed over them, but it wasn’t dull. It wasn’t boring. It was magical. The only sound was their content and peaceful breathing as they savored the kiss. That is until Jim broke away.
“I can’t let you do this, Pam,” he confessed. “What about Roy? You’re engaged, Pam.”
She leaned forward, taking Jim’s hand. “I’ll call it off. I’ve wanted to do it for a long time.”
“You don’t have to,” Jim promised. “If you’re happy…”
Pam shook her head. “I’m not.”
She leaned back in for another kiss. “I’m happy now,” she muttered, a smile spreading across her face. And the happiness was infectious. Jim chuckled, squeezing her hand with a grin.
“So, now what?” Pam giggled.
Jim shrugged. “I ‘dunno, are you up to anything tonight?”
Pam shook her head ‘no’. “I was supposed to have dinner with Roy, but something tells me that it might fall through.”
Jim smiled. “I’ll pick you up at seven.”
Suddenly, with a mechanical ding and a creak, the elevator doors heaved open. Jim and Pam looked at each other in relief and stood up off the floor. Jim groaned, stretching as he made his way out with a sigh of contentment.
And from somewhere deep in the Halloween decorations, a robotic voice, one that sounded suspiciously like a certain beet farmer, wished them an indifferent farewell.