The next day, Amina turned up at Raphael's door with a ticket. "My dear, you are going to the dance hall today! And yours truly will be coming with you."
Amina drove Raphael to the dance hall in her aircar. Raphael felt a sense of vertigo as it dipped and rose to avoid oncoming traffic. But the view was to die for. There was a complex of paths formed by aircars going in all directions, and Raphael could feel the height they were at by looking at which buildings she could see the spire of. Finally they parked on top of a tower, and as they exited the vehicle, the aircar folded up so it took up less space and placed itself in a line with the other automobiles.
"You won't believe the amazing choreography we have for you," beamed Amina at Raphael.
Raphael danced with her instructor and partner for hours on end in the week coming up to the semi-final. She worked so hard her mind was still full of dance by the time she went to sleep. When she went out shopping for her cha-cha dress, she suddenly broke free of her inhibitions and danced on the shop floor, to the delight of the onlookers.
On competition night, Raphael was up against Elouanne, a surprise contestant. Elouanne, like Raphael, had barely qualified for the round so was fighting with her life in the dance off. Raphael watched as Elouanne danced first on a glittery stage in front of the judging panel, which included a Venusian, a Martian and a Mercurian. Raphael watched as Elouanne executed a twinkle, then a turning twinkle, her treads on the floor as light as a feather. Elouanne had few mistakes, so by the time it came for Raphael to perform, she was a bunch of nerves. She was about to step on stage when she felt an itch on her back. She ignored it and commenced dancing.
Midway through the dance, the pain became agonizing and Raphael almost stopped. The slight slip of her guard cost her dearly. However she imagined in her mind an image of the ocean and the dolphins in it and this helped to ease the pain. After she had finished and went backstage, she collapsed in a dead faint from the pain. The doctor was called to see her.
"You have an area of redness on your back." He told Raphael.
Raphael frowned, then asked for a moment whilst she changed dresses. As she brought the cha-cha dress to her nose, she detected an acidic scent. So that was what caused the pain, she thought. Was it Elizabeth or Elouanne? Most likely it was Elouanne, because she had shared a make-up room with Raphael and could have had some contact with the lookautomaton.
Some time later, Raphael was called in front of the judges, along with Elouanne. She received the slightly better score. She was through to the final!