Memory palaces. Hannibal Lecter had one as did Sherlock Holmes and, I believe, so did Marcus Aurelius.

They are a testament to a life and take a lifetime to build but what might happen when  decay sets in?

We dread dementia and memory loss and rightly so, but might it not be also somehow beautiful, like discovering an overgrown temple in the jungle or a ruined mausoleum on a sun-baked hill.

“The Man dug into his pocket and pulled out the folded Crane. He held it up. ‘I ask you to help. That is, I ask you to try,’ said The Man. ‘This palace has taken me a lifetime to build,’ and he opened his eyes and saw that standing on the Terrace of Sights was a stranger and behind him, two wolves.

‘My name is Hench,’ said the stranger. ‘And this is Tooth and this is Claw,’ and he looked at each beast in turn.

Hench was slim and brown, he wore waxed cotton trousers and soft leather boots and The Man could tell from the casual way that he held himself that he was quick as spite and as strong as love. The two wolves had thick coats the colour of seasoned timber and eyes that sparkled like angry honey.

SILVERBACK, a collection of these fantasy and science fiction stories, is due for publication in paperback and digital format by Climbing Tree Books, June 2019.