He brought his rifle up at the sound of footsteps crunching the Oregon snow. "Who goes there? Stop and be recognized."
A weary voice answered out of the darkness. "It's me, Sam. It's Bud."
"Give me the password."
"Come on, Sam. Stop foolin' around."
"The password," Sam insisted.
Bud sighed. "'Patriots act.' Are you happy now?"
Sam lowered the weapon as Bud stepped out of the trees into the meager circle of moonlight. "Can't be too careful," he said. He cupped his hands and blew into them. It was cold out here. "So where you been?" he asked.
"Down to the front...