Somewhere in the city there is a giant red head. A giant red head that they constructed to create the gunk.
This giant head rests like a bust, firmly secured into it’s base by it’s giant red neck. The giant red head has a giant red nose that they use like a handle to open it’s oversized jaws. The nose extends away from the facade like the quarter end of a wooden mop handle, but this nose is made of metal like the rest of the construct. The nose has grooves in it where hands wearing thick black rubber gloves can wrap large fingers around the nose like a lever. However the head is massive and heavy, so it takes at least two people to lift up on the nose and open the head’s massive red jaws.
The maw on this thing has a giant underbite with large incisors capped in iron. These teeth are scaled and detailed to look exactly like real teeth. Though certainly much, much bigger. A dentist and an industrial blacksmith collaborated on their design and creation, and what would giant teeth be made for but chewing and mashing. Which is exactly their purpose, the whole jaw is a complex set of moving pieces that are routinely removed to be cleaned and put back into place when the giant red head needs to be activated.
The giant red head has large, peach pit shaped eye sockets that are empty and open. Look through them and you will see several slides that lead into a basin deep within the giant red cavity. The basin stoppers off right above the mouth where a fixed metal funnel rests. This is how they make the gunk, the giant red head is a machine that is used to create it from many other things.
They find stuff to put in the head, the men and women who wear all red when they work the nose and move the jaws back and forth. The men and women who wear red rubber body suits that zip up the back. Who have thick red rubber skull caps for their hair and large black wrap around sunglasses to protect their eyes. What they find they pour, straight through the eye sockets, and watch it travel down the slides where it deposits into the basin right above the mouth. They wind the stopper and watch as the contents of their experiment as it slowly collects into the funnel. They watch, withholding their breath, as the stuff they poured in there drips directly into the mouth and splashes across the giant teeth. Thats when (at least) two of them, those people dressed in red, begin to lift the nose while wearing those thick black rubber gloves.
That’s how the machine comes to be activated and things like the gunk come to be made. They lift the nose up and the underbite comes out, they lower the nose and the underbite retracts back into the jaw. The teeth mash down from top to bottom and then grind across each other, effectively mashing and chewing whatever it is that the people dressed in red poured into the giant red head.
Back and forth and back and forth and back and forth again. They raise the nose and work the oversized jaws like the bellows of a furnace or the engine of a locomotive. And this giant red head of theirs eats stuff they bring to it like the train engine consumes coal into a belly of fire. For the gnashing friction of the teeth causes much heat, hence the thick rubber gloves that the nose operators must wear. For the giant red head doesn’t reach it’s full radiant glory until it’s had a chance to get going. Then the metal heats and the giant red head begins to glow throughout. The large rivulets in it’s metal forehead look like an angry glowering creature’s face from the great underneath. The screws in the large metal bands, that hold the whole thing together, begin to unscrew themselves one by one. And the residue of any moisture, that has collected across the bald pate between uses, burns away in thin tendrils of steam that looks like a giant mess of writhing white hair.
"Back and forth and back and forth and back and forth again. They raise the nose and work the oversized jaws like the bellows of a furnace or the engine of a locomotive."
Then when it really gets going, when the giant red head is at it’s full engine-like capacity of motion, it begins to emit a strange sound. It’s like a strange word, that strange sound that it makes, like a high pitched squealing “TEEEEEEEEEEEV-FUH”. And the people in red rubber suits repeat the word back to the head like a choir sings in unison. “TEEEEEEEEEEEEEEV” they respond back to it, “TEEEEEEEEEEEEV-FUH”. But none of them know where the word comes from or how the giant red head makes such a sound. None of them know that the word actually means something, but the language it’s spoken in is so old that only an ancient historian would understand it. For the word comes from the before time, earlier even then the naming of the city. Earlier then still, past the age of steam and sorrow. Earlier then any known book would have recorded in ancient and crumbling yellow pages. The word means one thing, that likely none of the operators will ever come to comprehend. The head is saying the ancient word for “hunger”.
So what is it that they are feeding it, the stuff they find that gets mashed and chewed up into what we would know as the gunk? Well, the men and women in red rubber suits don’t exactly know. For what they put into giant red head is random and chaotic, and they use the machine they made to help bring order to their collections. From every square inch of the city of Distinct Poplar, the people in red search out things to find to put into the giant red head. This usually happens in their every day lives, set away from their secret group and even more secretive actions. Whatever they seem to find and pour into the eye sockets and watch get mashed up between the giant teeth, whatever it is usually amounts to nothing. Nothing but a spot of shards or useless liquid or paste. Thats because the giant red head can only truly accept things that are special. And what kind of things do you suppose are special to the everyday people of Distinct Poplar?
- Letters between jilted lovers, who secretly plotted against one another
- Neckties that were used as headbands instead
- Old stuffed animals missing at least an eye or a nose or an ear
- Photographs with people angrily cut out of them
- Discarded holiday greeting cards
- Lost teeth
- Cat whiskers
- Slightly out of tune violins
- Left handed scissors
- Old mix tape cassettes that were made in bad taste
- Busted wrist watches that were worn for years past their due
- Pocket knives that never found the right pockets
- Unlucky shirts
- Unscented Candles
- Picture frames that always hung slightly off kilter
- Disposable cameras that only took unflattering pictures
- Potted houseplants that grew better when neglected
- Skinny jeans
- Old complete diaries, with no missing pages
- Lipstick that never found a smiling face
- Socks that always managed to stay together through thick and thin
And any new and random thing they could find…
The stuff goes into the head, the mashing begins, the stuff is transformed into a gunk - while the men and women in rubber suits keep chanting. Each production of gunk is a mystery that must be tested for quality, and saved for research or hastily discarded so that the process might start anew. Throw it away, thats what they do with the stuff that they don’t like. The gunk that didn’t measure up for whatever it is they are plotting to do with the stuff. Down into the sewer goes the discarded gunk, forever forgotten about…