“Independence Day” — Sarah Langan

Sarah Langan is a three-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award. She is the author the novels The Keeper and The Missing, and Audrey’s Door. Her short fiction has appeared in the magazines Lightspeed, Cemetery Dance, Phantom, and Chiaroscuro, and in the anthologies The Living Dead 2, Darkness on the Edge and Unspeakable Horror. She is currently working on a post-apocalyptic young adult series called Kids and two adult novels: Empty Houses, which was inspired by The Twilight Zone, and My Father’s Ghost, which was inspired by Hamlet.

If you listen closely to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” you’ll hear real pain beneath the slick guitar solos.  The song is a lament for an America where ordinary people mattered and their vote made a difference in the direction of the nation.  It was a song written in response to the Vietnam War, and the squawking nationalism that swept the U.S. after the Bicentennial.

But it’s the Tricentennial that our next story examines. Polluted and terrorized, somehow America is just as frantically patriotic as it was when the Boss wrote his classic song—and the feeling is twice as empty.  Langan says of her piece: “I was working on an homage to Springsteen. I couldn’t decide on a particular song, and decided instead on what I thought was the essence of Springsteen; standing up, and fighting for what you believe in a screwed-up world.”