Tuesday morning, it snowed. It snowed early in the morning, and did not last past noon. If we were in a snowier state, this might have been a relief, but here we were mostly just disappointed. I figured that was going to be our snow season for the year, ignoring the weather forecasters’ better judgement.
Yesterday’s snow did stick. It was the liveliest night the campus had had in months, as people rushed out of their dorms and houses to enjoy the rare weather and procrastinate on studying for finals. I remember walking past the tables of the Oppenheimer cafe, each one converted into a construction site for a gingerbread house. Shortly afterwards, I was walking along a campus path sipping my hot chocolate. It was then that I witnessed the events which I will now relate to you:
The men stood erect in the snowfall, spaced out at positions in a semicircle around the library entrance. They were dressed in heavy pants, coats, and gloves. Each one had his own pile of ammunition. The rounds were carefully compacted into approximations of spheres and each and every one of them was as cold as death. Each man shuffled nervously, waiting for something. A group of four women stood off to the side, chattering as they awaited the moment when each man would spring into action. I was there too, but this was not my story. I waited. I observed. They spoke:
“Where is he?”
“I don’t know.”
“He should have come out by now.”
“When he does, block the door so he can’t take cover inside.”
“I told him not to come out.”
“Oh come on!”
“I was joking.”
The door opened.
“Fire at will!”
A man dressed in heavy pants, a coat, and gloves was shocked as the first volley of snowballs arced toward him. He recovered quickly. No one blocked the door, but he did not run back inside. He turned to his right and rushed away from the killzone, shielding his face with his arm. Snowballs shattered on the ground, on the walls of the library, and on the man’s coat. They did not stop him. He rushed past one of the ambushers, and made a break for the grove of trees nearby. Two of the ambushers tried to follow, but the snowy ground proved treacherous. One caught himself right before he fell onto a bicycle rack. The other was forced to pivot his feet in the style of a braking ice skater in an effort to stay upright.
“I don’t think you guys won this one,” I said.
“We didn’t. He got away,” one of the ambushers responded.
“Why did you let him get away?” asked a second to a third.
The snow continued to fall. The campus was alive.