By Yvonne Carts-Powell
The snowpocalypse is upon us! It brings a greater danger than just the cold, the high winds, the power outages, the slick roads, and the manic ranting of meteorologists. More perilous than all these is the arrival, with more than a foot of snow and extended cold weather, of dangerous snow goons.
Snow goons are little-known creatures, and were commonly believed to be mythical until the well-documented Great Pittsfield Snow Goon Attack in ‘2005. Since then, snow goons have been reported in a growing area and with this week’s massive snowstorm, they may be seen in an even more locations. Their sinister natural camouflage, ability to move silently, and durability all make snow goons dangerous winter predators.
But if you keep a level head and a stocked arsenal for dealing with snow goons, your chances of surviving a snowpocalypse are good. This article describes some simple steps you can take to prepare for this emergency.
Know your enemy
- Snow goons are white as snow and sometimes wear clothing, like scarecrows. City snowgoons, however, may be more dingy. Like city snow.
- They can smother humans in seconds, turning them into more snow goons.
- They lie in wait behind snowbanks, where they are nearly invisible. They attack lone travelers or small groups.
- If enough snow goons gather (A group of snow goons is known as a “blizzard”), they have even been known to attack cars and snowplows.
- They approach soundlessly.
- They travel only slightly faster than a walking pace, but have great stamina.
- They can climb slopes but not steps.
Simple safety precautions
The simplest and best advice is to stay inside until the snow has melted! Or until June, whichever comes first.
In particular, keep children indoors. Preschool-aged children may mistake a snow goon for the harmless snowmen seen in children’s books and winter holiday specials. They are easy prey for snow goons.
If you must travel
- If you have a car or truck, use it. Don’t park your car or truck beside the giant snow drifts.
- If you must walk, pick your path to give you access to buildings, or at least climbable trees or structures. (It’s amazing how fast a person in reasonably good shape can climb a light pole when the alternative is death by goon.)
- If possible, wear Hawaiian shirts and/or plaid golfing pants in bright colors. Snow goons appear to be actively repelled by these. (A rare case of goonish good taste.)
- Do not attempt to knife, throttle, punch, or kick a snow goon. It will have no effect — except to get you within their arm’s reach. While destroying a snow goon’s arms (either by wrenching out the branches from the body or by breaking them off) slows them down, goons can and will happily assimilate you by smothering you. Remember: Just Because They Are Armless Doesn’t Mean They Are Harmless!
Snow goons are dangerous, but they can be destroyed or disanimated! Your best weapon is heat, [but you can also use] then crushing, freezing, and melting. We’ll go over how to defend yourself with these techniques in more detail below.
- Heat is the most effective weapon. A flamethrower is, without a doubt, the best weapon. The fuel doesn’t last long, but you don’t need much heat to disanimate a snow goon. The 15-foot striking distance of a flamethrower could save your life.
If you don’t have a flamethrower in your snowpocalypse survival kit, you do have a few other options. A weed-burning kit will do. These are propane tanks equipped with hoses and wands to direct the flame. The striking distance of a 2-foot wand is not a lot of comfort when you encounter snow-goons, but it’s better than no striking distance at all. That is what you have with a standard propane torch, which is hot but only useful at arm’s length.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and there are credible reports of people creating flame-throwers from household items. A gout of flame from a butane lighter and aerosol can of hairspray can slow down a goon, but it’s better as a distraction while you get away than as an effective defense. A carnival fire-eater used her skill to drive back snow goons in Buffalo in 2009, but she is an unusually talented practitioner. Fire-breathing is not a skill that most people can learn when under great stress.
The recent surge in interest in fire-spinning with poi, staff, hoops or other props is likely a reasonable reaction to the increasing danger of snowpocalypses. By all means, if you know how to spin poi and the goons are converging on your location, pour some white gas on your poi, light up, and hold them off with a leisurely figure 8 — but remember that your fuel (and your stamina) has a finite lifetime, and you need to get to safety before that time is up.
For the less-talented of us, tiki-torches can be used as spears.
Well-directed napalm or napalm-like jellied fuels are tremendously effective at destroying snow goons. The only caution concerning their use is the likelihood of collateral damage. Before you napalm a horde of goons, check your surroundings. Are you likely to destroy houses, forests, cars, or other manmade structures if you napalm the snow goons? Remember that they will be able to move for several seconds before they melt to the point of disanimation. While slower-acting, Sterno is marvellously effective at destroying the creatures.
Few Americans smoke today, but as a last resort, smokers may be able to deter an attacking goon by flicking their Bic or waving lit cigars or cigarettes. Water pipes, alas, do little to deter snow goons.
- Snow goons can also be disanimated by crushing. This usually requires heavy equipment: snow plows, front-end loaders, wrecking balls, 18-wheelers and trains have all been used to destroy menacing snow goons. While the Greatest Circus Show on Earth memorably used a phalanx of log-wielding elephants to clear a path through a horde of snow goons, smaller animals have not had the same success. Several impromptu cavalry charges had disastrous results, especially when one remembers that the riders could have fled to safety merely by riding away from the goons at a trot. (Snow goons are not very fast and lose interest in prey once they are out of sight.). Speaking of animals, keep an eye on your household pets while on “walkies”.
If you can trick a snow goon into falling more than several feet, chances are that it will be crushed under its own weight. Snow goons do not have knees and ankles with which to absorb the impact. Try jumping off a loading dock or take a long walk off a short pier.
- Snow goons can be frozen solid if the weather is cold enough. This is a risky tactic, and should only be used as a last resort. But if you can turn a hose on the goons, they lose their ability to move, although not their malice. If you do manage to freeze a goon, and cannot flee to reasonable safety, immediately take steps to melt or crush the snow goon. Start at the top.
- Snow goons can be melted by hot water. Again, a risky tactic requiring a lot of hot water, but very effective. If you can add salt to the water, this works even better. (Note: solid salt does not work fast enough on its own to destroy attacking snow goons. It tends to annoy goons rather than damage them. Like any weapon, make sure you can handle it well enough that your attacker cannot turn it on you.)
- *Special dangers: don’t get burnt by friendly fire! In a blowing snowstorm, your neighbors may have difficulty distinguishing your snow-covered body from a snow goon! Since snow goons don’t have knees or voices, these are very good ways to indicate your humanity to others. Whistle, sing or do occasional deep knee bends, to demonstrate your humanity.
Above all, keep your head. Keep your fingers and toes warm and dry, be aware of your surroundings, and get to a warm, defensible position (such as the Bahamas) as soon as possible.
- Although Snow Goons prefer to travel on snow-covered ground, they will cross a few yards of bare ground and small, shallow streams while in pursuit of prey (ie, you).
- Top hats do not provide their animation.
- They cannot be pacified with a carrot; do not try.
- Their mouths only look as though they are a line of coal stuck in snow.
- Fighting them with ice shards only provides them with the equivalent of shuriken, allowing them to become slow but deadly ninja.
- Realistic clothing is not an indication of humanity. If there is any question about whether a figure is a human or snow goon, insist on seeing opposable thumbs, knee action, a wet tongue, and hearing their voice before accepting them as human.
- It is possible to survive a snow-goon attack without being turned into a snow goon, even if the human is half-smothered. Get the victim to a warm location as soon as possible and keep them talking, or flexing their thumbs for a good hour. In practice, this often means running them a hot bath in a barricaded bathroom. If, after an hour, the victim has neither melted in the water, or stopped talking, the victim has survived and can be re-admitted to the general population.
Enjoy winter, but stay safe
Despite the danger of snow goon attacks, life goes on in the winter. Just bundle up and be aware. Also, check under the bed before going to sleep.
Next week: “The Bogeypeople under the Bed, or, How to Avoid Being Poked by a Pooka.”
Copyright Yvonne Carts-Powell, 2011