It began when I killed the professor. Not immediately after and not even once I picked up the book, but that was surely the start of it. I had staked out his house for a week, waiting for him to leave it so I could get inside and set the trap. The contract had been very clear: make it look like an accident. Make it look like a smash and grab gone wrong. Make it look like a jilted lover had come back seeking blood. Keep it as quiet as you can, but if things go wrong, get it done and get the book before the end of the month.
I couldn’t figure out why there was a deadline. Near as I could tell, the old man wasn’t going to flee the country, he wasn’t going to publish anything, he wasn’t going to testify in court, he wasn’t going to give any speeches. My wi-fi sniffer didn’t even detect any outgoing traffic from his place. The lights never came on at night, no one ever came but the mailman and the mail went uncollected. He wasn’t doing a damn thing. I didn’t even know if he was still alive. All I knew was that the contract said to take care of him and get the book, and it was paying more money than either step was worth.
The last day of the month came and I finally had no choice. I’d have to go the “botched smash and grab” route or else the window of opportunity would pass. I wouldn’t get paid and I’d have a pissed off client on my hand, and when someone’s willing to pay see somebody killed, they probably don’t have any qualms against doing it twice.