The bone-white fingers with green fingernails pushed the final section into place.
Finally. And he thought that Rubik thing was difficult.
The Box spun into it's final configuration, and the temperature around him grew noticeably thinner and colder.
The walls began to creak, the timbers groaning under the changing pressures throughout.
The Joker's knees bounced up and down in his cross-legged seated position, the laughter he was trying to restrain was randomly venting from his tightly pressed lips.
The wooden floor in front of him slid apart with a rumbling crescendo, revealing a stone staircase that was never present in this abandoned chemical factory, certainly not leading up to the third floor until now.
Several figures were walking up the staircase. While not hurried, there was a definite purpose to their gait.
Their leader was as bone white as the man who summoned him. And his face and head was scored with a gridwork of scars, and at each intersecting incision, a long pin had been driven into his face and bone. Dark pupilless eyes conveyed no emotion.
The Joker looked at the leader, head cocked to the side.
"If you want to get to The Cure concert? You should've taken that left turn at ..."
"Oh. Oh no. I'm going to be dragged to Hell by the leather and piercing club." The Joker raised his hands to his face, looking terrified, convincing nobody. "Whatever. Shall. I Do?"
"You shall begin your experience in ..."
The Joker leapt to his feet, shoving the Box an inch from the leader's face, his grin growing ever wider. "I'll take 'Solving this baby here reconfigures not only the outside, but the inside into a representation of a two-dimensional geometric concept of a fundamental equation that opens a door between this world and yours' for five hundred, Alex! Am I right?"
The leader gave the Joker an unpleasant stare.
"Oh, I'm right. And when I'm right? I get to make you an offer, Baby."
The leader's lips twitched upwards. Either a plea, or a deal. Both would be entertaining. "Go on."
The Joker placed his hands behind his back, eyes staring at the ceiling. "Oh, just the usual. My freedom from the clearly undeserved fate that lies with you ..." The Joker's smile reappeared. "... you get a whole city."
The leader decided to listen.
Janet Guptill, late night anchor of Gotham's second rated news channel, clicked open her new SUV. She turned to her manager who'd asked her for a lift. "Is this place on the West Si-"
Janet stopped, when she saw the familiar smile over Jim's shoulder.
And Jim's eyes rolled up, and gagging, probably due to the knife in the side of his throat.
Joker raised his arms, letting the body slide to the ground. "Joker here!"
Janet knew there was a can of mace and a kitchen knife in her bag, but could only stand there, numbing fright robbing the urge to fight or flee.
Joker grabbed her limp right hand, and vigourously shook it. "Love Your Work!"
"Ah ...I ..."
"As one professional to another? I've got my latest scheme all planned out and ready to roll, and I thought, if anyone deserved first bite on it? You baby. Normally, I'd do the whole videotapes to the press thing, but I'm a little pressed for time, so I put the whole thing on my website."
Janet had finally willed her mouth to move. "...website...?"
"Yeah, or I'm about to, it goes online in..." The Joker leaned down, lifted Jim's wristwatch. "... fifteen minutes." Joker stood. "What's planned, how it's done, and who is going to die. And you're first with the scoop!" The Joker's hand shot up, revealing one of his playing cards. Shoving the card in her hand, he backed away, into the shadows. "You better get to makeup!"
With that, he vanished.
Janet looked at the card, written on the front was .com
She looked at Jim's body, the blood was congealing around her new shoes.
Better go to wardrobe as well.
The Oracle typed in the URL and waited. The screen was blank, but she'd see it as soon as it came online. She checked the virus scanners, all on, but she'd opened the page on a standalone computer off her network.
If there was anything, she was ready.
The news report on the screen and on the station's web page made the URL accessible to all Gotham. E-Mails warning everyone to check the site to make sure they stayed out of the Joker's firing line flew around the continent, and the world.
The page finally showed up.
No virus, but there was a continually changing image on the page, running on a simple graphic script. The image was a series of square brass square patterns on a black background.
And an audio clip of the Joker's laughter.
The puzzle box's patterns inside and within had been perfectly reproduced on the webpage, along with the sequence of changes as the configuration was solved, an essential component of the ritual.
Only the Joker announcing a brand new scheme could get millions of people around the world, encompassing the majority of Gotham's population, and even more throughout the world, could get the one page accessed near simultaneously.
After all things considered, an impressive result for the Lament Configuration's Internet Debut.