- Author: Fred Saberhagen
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A QUESTION OF TIME
SABERHAGEN’S DRACULA SERIES
By Fred Saberhagen
Copyright © 1992 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-editions published by:
JSS Literary Productions
PO Box 11243
Albuquerque, NM 87192
ISBN for e-edition: 978-1-937422-08-0
Cover art for the e-edition : Harry O. Morris
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
For a complete list of books by Fred Saberhagen, visit fredsaberhagen.com
Jake Rezner had never owned a watch, but the lack had rarely worried him, and he didn’t mean to let it bother him today. Squinting up at the first direct rays of the morning sun, just coming clear of an eastern cliff, he thought that today the sun would let him tell time well enough. He might get back to camp too late for evening chow, but that wouldn’t really matter. All he really had to worry about today was getting back before it got too dark to walk the Canyon trails. If he should get caught out overnight, or was so late returning that the camp authorities started to organize a search for him, they might begin to be uncomfortably curious about where he’d been.
For Jake the seven days since last Sunday had dragged almost as if he were in prison, or as if there could be something wrong with all the clocks and watches in the camp, and with the calendar that had spent this week, like every other week, hanging on a pole in the orderly tent.
Anyway, Sunday had at last come round again, and right after morning chow Jake had got hold of a canteen and come down here to the creek to fill it. At the moment he was squatting on the rocky lip of Bright Angel Creek, his right hand holding the two-quart vessel under water, air bubbles coming up in a way that made it look like he might be drowning a small animal. The canteen was surplus military equipment, like Jake’s khaki clothes, like his sturdy boots and his round-brimmed fatigue hat, all on loan from the Army to help the Civilian Conservation Corps get going in these dark days of the Depression.
Early June sunlight, hot but not nearly as hot as it was going to be in a few hours, sparkled off the surface of the noisy creek, glinting in the small patches where the water wasn’t too chopped up by turbulence to be anything but white froth. The dazzle of sunlight on rushing water suggested moving pictures, and was the kind of thing that on a dull Sunday might have tempted Jake to sit here for an hour and just watch—but today, whatever happened, was not going to be dull. Not for him.
Small rapids, both upstream and downstream, generated unending hollow noise, that sounded to Jake like a murmuring of many voices. In camp you could hear the rapids of the creek all day and all night, and on workdays along one trail or another they were sometimes audible. Since coming west to work for the CCC Jake had discovered that he could never listen for long to the voices of this or any other creek before they started making words. Right now the rapids upstream were louder than those below; and that seemed only natural, because the water upstream had just come tumbling all the way down from its source up on the North Rim, a mile higher and maybe ten crow-flight miles from this spot. Downstream from Jake, not more than fifty yards away, Bright Angel Creek plunged in a final subdued roar to its union with the wide, swift, silent Colorado at the very bottom of the Grand Canyon.
All the rapids in the creek kept on shouting their imaginary words at Jake, but right now they sounded like people arguing in some foreign language. Only one of those words was at all clear. It was a certain name, a girl’s name that he’d learned only two weeks ago.
The last remnant of air came bubbling up out of the submerged canteen, and Jacob Rezner got to his feet, screwing on the container’s metal cap. Jake at twenty-two was six feet tall and solidly built. His dark hair, kept cut short ever since he’d joined the CCC, still retained a tendency to curl. His greenish eyes had something in them that most people found a little startling, though very few could have said exactly why they were startled. The mobility of his mouth seemed to be connected somehow, perhaps to share a kind of energy, with the strangeness in his eyes.
Fastening the canteen to his webbed Army belt, Jake returned to camp by re-crossing the creek, on a narrow bridge that marked the foot of Kaibab Trail. Trudging a few feet uphill from the bridge, Jake entered what the Army people called the company street of CCC Camp NP-3-A. The street was basically two rows of khaki tents, twenty-five of them in all, most of them housing four enrollees each. Now that the hot weather was coming on in earnest, at least a couple of each tent’s canvas walls were hiked up to let air circulate. Headquarters and officer’s tents were grouped at the northeastern, upstream end of the camp. Latrines, supply, and the mule corral were scattered downstream along the creek. Today the makeshift corral would more than likely remain empty; generally no pack trains came down on Sunday. As a rule the rest of the week saw fairly steady mule train traffic, because all supplies except water had to be packed