Louis returned to Maddie's house, finding the screen door waiting open for him. Simon, colored scarlet by the sunset, sat amongst a pile of plush pillows in the center of the room. One side of his face was buried in bandages, which also wrapped over the top of his head.
"Hello, Simon," Louis said quietly, after the screen swung closed behind him.
Simon wasn't particularly responsive, but his good eye gave half a wink. But then, Simon startled him by gurgling some sounds out of the side of his mouth. "Uhhh nuh isss…"
"What was that?" Louis had only heard gibberish.
"Tsss." A trail of slobber rolled out of his mouth with the sound. It was probably nothing. Except, Louis thought he understood…
He took Simon under both shoulders and dragged his friend outside, onto Maddie's doorstep. Simon continued to struggle through garbled noises all the while.
"Louis? Is that you?" Maddie called from inside. Louis left Simon sitting up against the railing on her porch. He made sure Simon couldn't fall down the steps, then went back inside to greet his girlfriend.
"Yeah, it's me," he said, entering the bathroom where she cleaned up various herbs sacrificed to make poultices. His zombie bites no longer bothered him.
She gave him a sweet smile and asked out of genuine concern how Simon fared.
"Much the same," he told her. "Pretty bad."
He said he'd put Simon out for a moment, for some fresh air. This was the sorriest state yet for Simon, though Louis supposed he was glad Simon had survived.
Glancing back at the front room, Louis couldn't see Simon past the bottom of the screen door. And then, he couldn't see Simon once he reached it. Louis stepped out onto the doormat, formerly occupied by the legs of his incapacitated best friend. Standing there, he scanned Maddie's front yard, and even the street beyond that.
Simon was gone.