A Snowball’s Chance

by Cara Ehlenfeldt and Jonesy Jones

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[A cassette tape is placed inside a tape player, and a button is pressed. A series of synth chimes reminiscent of an old educational film plays as the voiceover begins. The voiceover is slightly distorted and has reverb as if it’s playing from a cassette player into a room.]

VOICEOVER (Jonesy Jones): Hello, and welcome to volume five in this instructional series on how to destroy household objects. In this tape, we will discuss how to destroy a snowball.

[A single synth chime.]

VOICEOVER: Before we get started, please be advised that our patented destruction techniques should only be used on their intended objects. The techniques in this tape are intended for snowballs only, and are not to be used on snowmen, snow forts, icicles, frozen peas, or your own cold, dead heart. For those, and other commonplace items, see volumes six through ten.

[An arpeggio of synth chimes.]

VOICEOVER: If you do not already have your snowball, we will take a brief pause for you to retrieve it.

[A synth chime rapidly plays twice.]

VOICEOVER: Do you have your snowball? (pause) Let’s get started!

[Two rapid synth chords.]

VOICEOVER: Number one: Smash it with a hammer.

Step one: Take hold of your snowball.

[A snowball is picked up.]

VOICEOVER: Step two: Place it on a solid surface, such as a cutting board or work bench.

[A cutting board is set on a hard surface and the snowball is placed on it.]

VOICEOVER: Step three: Smash your snowball.

[An arm raises, then lowers and smashes the snowball to smithereens.]

VOICEOVER: Great work!

[A brief synth chime phrase plays. The final note sustains into a quiet, low drone playing under the following “fact.”]

VOICEOVER: Fun fact: The Boston Massacre began as a snowball fight. During the Revolutionary War, up to 70,000 U.S. soldiers died. The number of snowball casualties is unknown.

[The drone cuts out.]

VOICEOVER: Number two: [two rapid synth chimes play] Feed the snowball to your dog.

Fido loves dinner time [a dog barks and begins panting, gradually growing closer], so why not surprise him with an icy treat? Simply place the snowball in your dog’s food bowl, and Fido will take care of the rest!

[Under the voiceover, we hear from the snowball’s POV as it’s placed in a food bowl and the panting grows closer, until the snowball is devoured by a dog with much crunching and slobbering. The dog swallows the last of the snowball with a gulp and barks happily. A subtle, low drone begins under the following.]

VOICEOVER: Fun fact: Did you know that when a snowball melts, the resulting water is 9 percent less in volume? That would be like losing your entire head! Some say the missing volume is the departure of the snowball’s soul…

[A very brief uneasy pause as the drone fades out.]

VOICEOVER: Number three: [three quick synth chimes play in succession] Mail your snowball to a tropical locale.

Step one: Calculate proper postage. [Under the voiceover, keys are pressed on a calculator and the snowball is placed on a scale.] The postage will depend on the snowball’s weight. To make sure you’re accurate, weigh your snowball once in the morning [a single chime] and once in the evening [a single higher chime].

Step two: Place the snowball in the mailbox. To ensure the postperson has picked up your snowball, you may want to wait near a window with a pair of binoculars.

[Blinds are raised and lowered. Then, a truck honks and begins driving away.]

VOICEOVER: Looks like the snowball is on its way! Well done!

[Three jaunty synth chimes play.]

VOICEOVER: Fun fact: [a low drone begins playing] No one knows what happens to the soul of a snowball after death. The only clue is the phrase (suddenly, the voice is closer and no longer coming through the tape) “a snowball’s chance in hell.” (the word “hell” echoes)

(abruptly overlapping with the echoes, sounding like a normal cassette again) Number four: Cook your snowball.

[A jazzy rendition of “O Christmas Tree” begins, with a synth melody and a shaker beat.]

VOICEOVER: Step one: Gather salt, pepper, butter, garlic, thyme, and rosemary. Boil a generously salted pot of water on the stove.

[The pilot light clicks as a gas burner is lit. The flame continues to burn.]

VOICEOVER: Step two: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. [a splattery simmering begins] Mince the garlic and herbs, [a knife chops on a cutting board] and add them to the melted butter.

[A hiss as ingredients are dumped into the butter. The sizzling continues under the voiceover.]

VOICEOVER: Step three: Firmly grasp the snowball and lower it into the pot upside down, so that it enters the water headfirst. [A rolling boil of water grows dangerously close. A splash as the snowball is submerged. The voiceover and music are now heard through a layer of water and bubbles. A faint screaming begins and grows louder, as the screaming and bubbles gradually overtake the voiceover.]

VOICEOVER (through water): It may sound as if the snowball is screaming, but don’t be fooled—snowballs don’t have lungs. That sound is simply air escaping from the snowball’s interior.

[The snowball screaming gradually dies out, as the bubbles grow louder and distort. The underwater sounds fade into the crackle of fire. Eerie drones and stretched, ominous vocal sounds echo in the space. We linger here a while.

Suddenly, the voiceover is heard echoey, booming, and distant:]

VOICEOVER (echoing across vast space): NUMBER FIVE: COLLATERAL DAMAGE.

For the toughest of snowballs, we recommend our most drastic destruction method. You will want to locate your nearest fault line. If you are not sure if your town has a fault line, speak with your town’s geologist.

[The rumbling and cracking of earth begins and grows louder under the voiceover.]

VOICEOVER (echoing across vast space): Aggravating the fault line will lead to a volcanic eruption, causing a chain reaction with catastrophic consequences and cascading effects across earth’s biosphere…

[The cracking sounds subside to a deep rumbling.]

VOICEOVER (echoing across vast space): If you succeed in penetrating the fault line, you will destroy all humans and every object known to the anthropocene, including snowballs. [a single synth chime plays] But take care not to hit any power lines or portals to otherworldly dimensions, or else: (slightly louder and closer) snowballs will inherit the earth.

(echoing again) Ready? Step one…

[A massive explosion rings out with the sound of a party blower. As the explosion echoes and fades, jingle bells gradually fade up, with the sound of winter wind. A quiet synth chime slowly plays the opening phrase of “Frosty the Snowman.” The jingle bells and wind continue and gradually fade out.]

Cara Ehlenfeldt and Jonesy Jones

Cara Ehlenfeldt and Jonesy Jones have been making art together since 2018. They have the same degree from the same school, which is probably how they met.