- Author: Fred Saberhagen
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THE DRACULA TAPE
Copyright ©1975 by Fred Saberhagen
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Paper editions published by Tom Doherty Associates, Inc.
e-edition ISBN (13): 978-0-9796257-2-6
e-edition ISBN (10): 0-9796257-2-6
E-editions published by:
JSS Literary Productions
PO Box 11243
Albuquerque, NM 87192
Saberhagen’s Dracula Series
Ordered by copyright date
The series need not be read in order
The Dracula Tape
The Holmes-Dracula File
An Old Friend Of The Family
A Matter Of Taste
A Question Of Time
Séance For A Vampire
A Sharpness On The Neck
A Coldness In The Blood
About The Author
Fred Saberhagen is widely published in many areas of speculative fiction. He is best known for his Berserker, Swords, and Dracula series.
For more information on Fred visit his website: www.fredsaberhagen.com
The literary estate of Fred Saberhagen is managed by JSS Literary Productions.
The following is a transcript of a tape found in a recorder in the back seat of an automobile belonging to Mr. Arthur Harker of Exeter, two days after the freakishly heavy Devon snowstorm in January of this year. Mr. Harker and his wife, Janet, both suffering from exposure and exhaustion, were admitted to All Saints Hospital, in Plymouth, on the morning following the height of the storm. They spoke of abandoning their auto on an impassable road near midnight, but seem never to have given any convincing explanation for leaving the relative security of their vehicle at an hour when the storm was at its worst, nor of exactly how they reached Plymouth. All Saints Hospital is some thirty kilometers from where their car was found in a drift on the Upham Road, just outside St. Peter’s Cemetery and virtually on the edge of Dartmoor. The Harkers’ physical condition and the state of their clothing upon arrival at the hospital suggests that they may have walked across country. Their car was undamaged when found, and although all its doors and windows were locked the key was still in the ignition, which had been turned off. The petrol tank was approximately one-third full.
The voice on the tape is masculine and rather deep. It speaks English with an indefinable slight accent. Three linguistics experts consulted have given three divergent opinions regarding the speaker’s native tongue.
The general quality of the tape, and the background noises detectable thereon, are, in the opinion of technical experts, consistent with the hypothesis that the tape was in fact recorded in an automobile, engine running at idling speed, heater and blowers operating, with gusts of high wind outside.
The Harkers dismiss the tape as “some joke,” profess no interest in it, and refuse all further comment. It was first played by rescue workers who found the car and thought the recorder might hold some emergency message from its occupants. They brought the tape to the attention of higher authorities because of the references to violent crimes which it contains. No external evidence has been found to connect the tape with the alleged vandalism and grave robbing at St. Peter’s Cemetery, now under investigation.
* * *
… this switch, then my words will be set down here electrically for the world. How very nice. So, if we are going to tell the truth at last, then what real crimes can I be charged with, what sins so utterly damning and blastable?
You will accuse me of the death of Lucy Westenra, I suppose. Ah, I would swear my innocence, but what is there to swear by that you would now believe? Later, perhaps, when you have begun to understand some things, then I will swear. I embraced the lovely Lucy, it is true. But never against her will. Not she nor any of the others did I ever force.
At this point on the tape another voice, unidentifiable, whispers an indecipherable word or two.
Your own great-grandma Mina Harker? Sir, I will laugh like a madman in a moment, and it is centuries since I have laughed, and no, I am not mad.
Probably you have scarcely believed one single thing that I have said to you this far. But I mean to go on talking anyway, to the machine, and you may as well listen. The morning is far off, and at present none of us have any place to go. And you two are well armed, in your own estimation at least, against anything that I might try to do to you. Heavy spanner clutched in your white-knuckled right hand, dear Mr. Harker, and at your good wife’s lovely throat hangs something that should do you more good, if all reports are true, than even such an estimable bludgeon. The trouble is that all reports are never true. I’m the last stranger you’ll ever welcome into your car out of a storm, I’ll wager. But I intend you no harm. You’ll see, just let me talk.
Lucy I did not kill. It was not I who hammered the great stake through her heart. My hands did not cut off her lovely head, or stuff her breathless mouth — that mouth — with garlic, as if she were a dead pig, pork being made ready for some barbarians’ feast. Only reluctantly had I made her a vampire, nor would she ever have become a vampire were it not for the imbecile Van Helsing and his work. Imbecile is one of the most charitable names that I can find for him …
And Mina Murray, later Mrs. Jonathan Harker. In classic understatement I proclaim I never meant dear Mina any harm. With these hands I broke the back of her real enemy, the madman Renfield, who would have raped and murdered her. I knew what his intentions were, though the doctors, young Seward and the imbecile, could not seem to fathom them. And when Renfield spelled out to my face what he intended doing to my