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Esther Johnson

Aargh! It is the Zombie Apocalypse! Run away!

(After Tom Cho)

Aargh! It is the zombie apocalypse! Run away!
But I'm not worried – I can drive a fire truck!
My fire truck is satisfyingly big and red and high off the ground.
I announce my presence with the siren:
I am coming, zombies! (It wails!) I will run you down! (loudly!)
I will blow you away with my water cannon!

I am the leader of a group of firefighters-turned-zombie hunters!
In my crew are Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman and Robert Downey Jr.
We are so tough the zombies don't know what to do.
They just shuffle about and moan for human flesh.
They don't know about our axes or the water cannon
or that we can escape up ladders if we need to.
A fire truck is all you need in a zombie apocalypse!

Bruce Willis is my second-in-command.
He is good in a crisis.
He takes the heads off zombies with his axe as we drive past.
(He also looks sexy in the firefighter uniform.
In fact, we all look sexy in the firefighter uniform.
But not only does the uniform make us look sexy, it also protects us from
Zombies can't bite through the hi-tech, flame resistant materials that our jackets
     and trousers are made from.
Zombies are also allergic to red braces. Yes, it's true!)

We are fighting a bunch of zombies in Bourke Street Mall.
Unfortunately Gary Oldman is killed in a gruesome way.
Then he comes back from the dead. Oh no
But he is not a zombie!
He is a baddie who is somehow responsible for the zombie outbreak in the first
I try and seduce him with love and show him the error of his ways.
Bruce Willis doesn't like this and shows his anger by decapitating some zombies
     in a vicious manner.
Gary Oldman is still a baddie, but he is a sexy baddie.
I can't win him over.
He escapes, narrowly avoiding being killed gruesomely again, this time by
     Bruce's axe.

Now I am sad. It is hard being the leader during a zombie apocalypse.
I drape red braces around my body and sit on the top of the fire truck eating a Kit
Robert Downey Jr. climbs up and quietly sits next to me.
‘It's hard being different,' he says.
He undoes the buttons on his shirt.
I am about to stop him and say I've had enough of seduction for one day,
but then I see that he is showing me the skin of his torso
which is covered in white, downy feathers.
Before I can stop myself, I reach a hand out and touch him.
His feathers are the softest thing I have ever touched,
softer even than kittens and that really soft toilet paper.
Robert Downey Jr. looks at me with sad eyes.
Then, without explaining anything, he does up the buttons on his shirt and
     climbs down.
Then I don't feel quite so alone.

I finish my Kit Kat and stand on top of the fire truck.
I put my hands on my hips and call everyone's attention to me,
rallying them together and motivating them with my words.
I am so butch they are confused about whether I'm a boy or a girl.
Then we go and kill all the zombies
and liberate the people hiding in Myers Department Store!
It is a good day to be driving a fire truck and leading a bunch of
     firefighters-turned-zombie hunters!

Esther Johnson’s “Aargh! It is the Zombie Apocalypse! Run away!” was first published in Cordite 32: Zombie 2.0 (2010). The guest poetry editor for this issue was Ivy Alvarez.

Esther Johnson

Esther Johnson studied Creative Arts at the University of Melbourne, majoring in creative writing and media studies. She has made short experimental films, played cello in various bands, and had poetry and short fiction published in Cordite Poetry Review, Vivid and various anthologies and chapbooks. She lives in Melbourne and works part time for a cheese distribution company and in her spare time, she writes, make collages, and cross-stitches smutty designs.


A Typical Day At Work 

My typical day involves getting up at an ungodly hour to ride my bicycle to work: along a creek, past ducks and swans and rabbits, skirting around the edge of the city, and then partway along the lazy Yarra River, all around the time (or in winter, before) the sun gets up. I work for a cheese distribution company and most of my day is spent in a huge refrigerator, assembling orders and maintaining a high level of quality on all the beautiful local and imported cheese we distribute. We always have music playing and often I dance to stay warm. During breaks, I eat far too much cheese. I usually finish work around midway through the afternoon, and at home, I refuel on cups of tea. Then, sometimes, I try to write, which often results in TV-watching and Internet-browsing related research. This can take many hours. Unfortunately I have never been a firefighter (though I do own red braces), but I still hold out hope of one day becoming a zombie hunter. Have you made your zombie apocalypse plan yet?