Most people don't know what it's like to be drunk before noon.

Getting drunk just because you're bored and don't know what else to do in a quiet suburb- Taki didn't know what that was like until recently, either. Things had changed once he left his last lover's house and found a place of his own, though. No drama and pulling of hair every day, no fucking all night. He'd taken off when she lied about being pregnant to try and keep him around.

He took another sip of his gin. He'd already had three drinks this morning and it was hanging heavily in his gut, churned up with his breakfast, sitting like shit in a sling. He slumped back in his seat, head falling back as he tried not to gag. His lips were scorched, along with his throat. His head was spinning and the world had taken on a glowing, foggy haze. He bared his teeth in a smile. Felt good.

He fell asleep, woke up again. Grabbed another drink. His head was throbbing wetly- it felt like a shark with sponge teeth was chewing on his brain. Taki sat still, not wanting to aggravate the hungry monster in his skull, hoping it might be soothed by a nip of booze. With slow, shaky movements, he sloshed gin into a glass, drowning it in fruit juice to fool his revolting stomach. Taking a mouthful, he grimaced- his belly wasn't fooled- and held his breath until it settled into his gut like a lead fist.

It wasn't even ten o'clock yet.

Taki was twenty one, stone-drunk. He worked at a bar. They didn't mind his drinking, as long as he was coherent enough at work. There were perks for him showing up sober enough, too- cheap booze, easy sex. He was good looking, tall, fit and blond with an open, kind face. Women were drawn to him- they melted in his hands at night and willingly poured their life stories to him. He was a skilled bartender, and being a life councilor came with the territory, it seemed- drunk men cried and fought, drunk women raged and fucked. He'd been used as a witness in more than his far share of crimes in the past, coolly passing on the information that careless lovers had divulged. He'd made enemies.

He reached for another drink and knocked the bottle over, spilling the last gulp over the hardwood floor.

"oh, shit! Shit, shit-" Taki dropped out of his seat, falling to his knees and stooping low, licking the gin off the floor in a sick homage to the drink. He was shaking a little- he didn't have work for another night and no money in his account. There was no more gin, only half a can of flat beer in his fridge. That would do in a pinch, but what was he gonna do until he could grab another bottle off the shelf?

By six in the evening, he'd made up his mind.

The shark was back, thrashing about in his head- it was dying of thirst and wouldn't give him any peace until it was quenched. Taki could almost feel its sandpaper skin grating against the inside of his skull. He endured it for hours, even drinking the stale beer before giving in; he wasn't a bad kid, he'd just made bad choices in life. But the shark wouldn't listen to reason or excuses and Taki had shit show of ignoring the cold grinding in his head. He tried not to think about what he was doing as he hauled boxes out of his storage, pulling them open and digging through them like a dumpster diving drunk.

It's winter, so I'm gonna have to dress warm, he reasoned with himself, yanking his old balaclava out from under old, florescent woolen snow pants filled with moth holes. He shook the dust off it and rolled it down over his face, pushing his hair out of his eyes and trying not to sneeze as a vile musk invaded his nose, gagging him. There must have been rats at one of his ex's houses. He almost took the mask off.

But it's cold out there, a whiny version of his voice complained. It fucking wasn't, even in the dead of winter this place never went below five Celsius. That stink was fucking foul, too-

Pain tightened around Taki's brain with a sickly throb, and he knew that the voice was the shark. He had been given his marching orders and if he didn't do as he was told, boy oh boy, was he in for a world of hurt. Against his will he left that stinking balaclava on and yanked on a thick, figure-masking jacket, pulling gloves on after he'd fastened it so he wouldn't fumble with the domes. He almost got out of bringing his gun- he'd got it after one of the women he'd testified against sent her new lover to give him a shakeup- but the shark remembered it at the last minute and made him go back for it, sinking his teeth into Taki's flesh as a punishment for his insubordination. They weren't sponge teeth anymore, either- they felt like serrated steel knives.

It was a cold night. Even with the thick coat on, Taki almost doubled himself over to keep the arctic blast from freezing his bones. Good thing the liquor store was only half a block away- his gut would soon be on fire again and that fucking shark would stop yanking on the back of his eyeballs. The usual flock of teenagers milled around the entrance, not quite close enough to piss off the manager but still near enough that no one going in could miss them- sure enough they descended on Taki as he approached, thrusting money at him, pleading with him to grab them a six pack, some cheap vodka, with promises of him getting to keep the change. He shoved past them, ignoring jeers and curses, yanking his mask down over his face, his heart in his teeth. The kids fled as he drew his gun from his pocket, the heavy metal weighing nothing in his nervous hand.

He grabbed two bottles of Gordon's London Dry gin off the shelf, juggling them and his gun- the store keeper didn't even notice him until he started to leave, and for just a moment he hoped that it would be in and out, no questions asked. Then, as he crossed the threshold of the store, an explosion of noise- none of the tinny pew pew-ing you hear on T.V- ripped through the air. He never felt the shot ripping through his guts and, for a brief moment, wondered why the fuck he'd dropped the gin, the bottles shattering. As his own blood poured like a mixer into the wasted booze, he finally understood. The shark had abandoned him like fleas running from a dying dog- his head was horrifically clear.

Sinking to his knees, Taki began at last to feel the burn of the store keeper's bullet.