The memory palace

Inside the church snow was falling.  The flowers on the altar, still held miraculously in full bloom, were shaking as though reacting to the cold.  Selina was gone, no trace of her remaining in the pew where she'd sat, no footprints in the dusting of snow already covering the church floor.  Outside, the fountain in front of the church had frozen solid and was groaning intermittantly as water tried and failed to force its way through ancient cast iron pipes.

The Monsignor looked around and shivered.  He looked back over his shoulder and saw the door of the church swing open.  His assistant, a young man called Jacquard scurried in.
"I've told Father Chapman that he needs to turn the fountain off.  He looked a little confused, Monsignor, are you sure that--?"
The Monsignor held up a hand, cutting him off.  "Yes, Jacquard, Father Chapman will turn the fountain off.  It is his church, after all.  Now, tell me, what do you see here?"
"I see the impossible, Monsignor," said Jacquard immediately, his eyes roaming across the church.  "It is snowing inside the church, which is clearly not large enough to support any kind of weather system of its own.  There is no obvious machinery, or pipes for hidden machinery, to be creating the snow however.  This is most ingenious."
"Yes, Jacquard, the impossible," murmered the Monsignor.  "Except that it is happening, which means, clearly, that it is possible."

Jacquard was silent, and he moved quickly around the church, checking the walls, the congregational pews, the choir stalls and the lectern before finishing at the altar.  The Monsignor stood in the centre of the aisle, his eyes partly closed and his lips slightly open, his head tilted backwards and his hands clasped demurely in front of him.

"There is no machinery that I can find, Monsignor.  And I doubt that Father Chapman is astute enough to install something that could do this without me seeing evidence of it."
"She is not here, Jacquard," said the Monsignor dreamily, his lips unmoving and his voice thin in the echoing church.  "She has left already, and is going to the Memory Palace."

Jacquard crossed himself, and knelt quickly facing the altar.  He placed his forehead against it, and muttered the Lord's Prayer under his breath, running through it rosary-fast.
"I trust God is guiding you, Monsignor," he said at last, rising back to his feet.
"He moves in mysterious ways," said Father Chapman.  Jacquard started, he hadn't heard the old priest come in to the church.  The Monsignor said nothing, unmoving in the aisle, becoming ever more covered in snow.
"No, I am sure that your Monsignor is being guided by the heavens, though I am not sure that God Himself is instructing him.  The angels have their tasks to carry out too, and some of them must manifest here on earth to perform their miracles.  Whether this snow is a miracle though, I have yet to decide."

Jacquard tensed, then relaxed, unsure of what to say.  He settled for waiting in an agonised silence, hoping that the Monsignor would speak again.

"We must find the Memory Palace," said the Monsignor, a thin trickle of spittle drooling out of the corner of his mouth.  "We must find it before she leaves there."  Then, like a marionette with its strings cut, he collapsed the snowy flagstones of the aisle of the church.

The End

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