Lin Page 20
their inability to blink, even as the dancehall lights buzz madly about her face. In fact, she hasn't blinked once since the conversation began. Like staring at a painting. Renaissance, with the longish hair framing her face,
features aglow and soft. The only thing out of place is the cigarette, which juts along with her jaw in masculine fashion. It occurs to him that she is not all there.

In a move that is as unexpected as reflex, her right hand moves for the lighter, and he grabs hold of it an instant before she touches it. Instead, her fingers encounter his balled fist. Her hand lays there, wan and cold. Colder than one would expect in this hothouse. The skin on her arms too, all prickly.

Are you -- he begins, and in mid-sentence the music is choked off and the house lights wax to full intensity, no grace period in between. An atmosphere of candied

spotlights and smoky air a moment before, now funereal black as walls and floor emerge. Everyone's faces are sallow in the unforgiving luminescence. Someone is speaking on a megaphone, but he can't make out what is being said within the squelch.

Dammit. She shakes her head.

What are they saying?

ID checks
. Now that she is speaking in relative quiet, he notes her speech is slightly slurred. They're inspecting everyone's IDs.

Quietly, slowly, all the dancers and patrons are being directed to sit at tables. The policemen are spreading throughout the club, stopping at each table, noting names and IDs in their little black books. A policeman dressed in