At first, the travel there was the dangerous part. No human had ever been to Mars before, though everybody was pretty sure that Elon Musk would take us there, at some point. All we had were stories. Ray Bradbury wrote about a doomed First Expedition in his Martian Chronicles wherein the first men wandered off and died or were killed. But it wasn’t like that in real life. Here in the real world, in April of 2030, we all knew that Dennis Rodman, William Shatner, and Snooki from Jersey Shore had made it there first on one of Elon Musk’s SpaceX ships, launched from Texas. Unlike Bradbury’s story, the American expedition did not encounter any Martians.

Mikhail had been eagerly watching the news, hoping they’d make contact with a more enlightened civilization, and also a bit distraught that his native country of Russia hadn’t made it there first. He was sure that Russia would have sent people of character and not television clowns, famous for their outrageous antics or who they slept with.

“Give it time, my love,” said Mikhail’s mother. “Just because they haven’t made contact yet doesn’t mean that they won’t.” And so he plucked up his spirits and eagerly awaited the day of contact.

Surely it would come eventually, because now, mankind had the required infrastructure for multiple ships, in the form of the RainbowBridge to the stars.

The RainbowBridge technology made it all possible. To the ancient Norse, the rainbow bridge was the passageway that the gods used to reach their home of Asgard. In the myths, it was called Bifrost. The techno-creators didn’t look that far into the mythos, I guess. They thought that the name RainbowBridge would be more inclusive, surely, for there were some who had grown weary of all of the technological changes and yearned for the past. This inclusivity was meant as a way to sway the common people, to woo them, to tell them: we see you. We ARE you.


We sent to them our gods. First onto Mars, and then in second, third, and fourth expeditions, was our Hollywood celebrities, our sports stars, and our billionaires. They came to plant flags of their various countries of origin, to take copious photos of themselves doing a variety of things, from playing basketball to using the flagpole as a stripper pole. They brought only disposable items and left only trash. Then they flew back home on the long trip across the RainbowBridge.


The RainbowBridge was not a “bridge” in the traditional sense of one; that is, a solid connection between two equally solid stretches of dry land. Rather, this bridge was a series of floating docking stations between Earth and Mars that allowed for the entry and takeoff of small ships that would form a sort of bucket brigade to the Red Planet.

The next expeditions carried scientists, entrepreneurs and engineers: those folks dedicated to terraforming, building, and otherwise transforming the planet into Earth’s premier vacation destination. As the new Las Vegas, it was rumored that whatever happened on Mars stayed there. Since politicians hadn’t made their way there yet, it was a lawless Old West of a planet, and folks realized that an “anything goes” lifestyle was perfectly accepted—even expected—so far away from Earth.

After a time, the nostalgia of it all wore off. Mars was no longer a place to go and take a selfie like you were at the top of Mt. Everest. Instead, it was a “been there/done that” remnant of yesteryear. The money had dried up as bad reviews proliferated all over the Internet and folks decided that they preferred Hawaii to a planet full of leagues of red dirt.

Mikhail drove the last stretch of the bridge, from substation Zeta to the Asgard Mars Colony. What used to be a luxury was now relegated to government-subsidized transport for prisoners and the unwanted—which rumor said, was to include the unvaccinated. When he’d first taken the job, it sounded like a dream: a government job paying good money, with benefits, and he’d get to see Mars up-close and personal. Who else could say that? But now, five years on, the nostalgia had worn off. I might have made a damn good bus driver, he mused.

The transport vehicle he took was an old rust bucket of a ship called the Loki, and today it was his charge to deliver another group of undesirables to Asgard. “Maybe I should quit at the end of the month,” he whispered to himself as the handcuffed undesirables boarded, looking down demurely. Mikhail took a sip from his bottle of pop, as he spotted a prisoner unlike the others: a tattooed female with bright pink streaks in her hair.

“You don’t have to do this,” she said to him, pausing her steps.

He was about to say, I’m just doing my job, but then he thought better of it. That was the line used by every soulless follower of an evil regime since the beginning of time. Even in his thoughts, it sounded so…cliché. So instead, he said, “Let’s talk later,” because the guard was still there at the door. There would be plenty of time to speak in private—without prying government eyes and ears around—on the trip to Asgard. She nodded and then stared at him as he eyes changed color and shape for a brief moment—they were jet black and oblong and—alien. Mikhail spat his soda out, toward the window. Then those eyes changed back and the young woman went to take her seat.

This is sure to be an interesting trip, thought Mikhail, and his mind raced with possibilities as he began the takeoff process and the doors automatically shut. The young woman rose from her seat and made her way toward Mikhail, shackles somehow removed. “We’re not going to Asgard,” she said. “I’m commandeering your ship.”

Mikhail was in no place to say no. He realized his own lack of power in this situation. As the young woman sat in his lap and took hold of the ship’s controls, he felt a wave of ecstasy shoot through him.

“I surrender,” he whispered.