Asa Bergman, Contributor

It is the year 3030. Cars don’t need to drive on roads. Robots are everywhere and there are massive drones. Numbers are counted by the thousands. Human beings live in Atlas which is in the country of Crayola. Atlas is a highly secured town in the middle of nowhere in the clouds. Glowing lights are placed everywhere to symbolize the color of the day. Each day revolves around the single color. You must wear the color and participate in all of the color laws of the day. For example, green means only healthy foods for the day and that residents have to recycle 10 things for that day. Red means no anger for the day. Blue means no sadness for the day and so on. For the adults in the town, this is the normal way of life; but the children are getting bored. They want to be in a place where they are not told what to wear or how to behave based on the color of the day. The children are getting restless and want a new way to live. There is one eleven year old boy in Atlas who is especially affected by this boredom. Mark Ringling is a smart, athletic, popular, and funny boy. But despite all of this, he is still looking for happiness.

“What should we do today? Guys remember, it’s a Green day,” Mark says.

“I know,” Emma sighs. “I hate Green days.”

Then, Jenn says, “Why don’t we have some food. Let’s hologram Cloud Eats to get some pizza. We can use the boxes for our recycling even though pizza is not such a healthy food.”

“Sure, I’ll use my hologram account. I order from Cloud Eats all the time,” Dan suggests. “Good idea Jenn, you’re such a recycling nerd.”

The group of best friends decides on Puffer McPufferson’s Puffing Pizza which starts out flat and puffs up as you eat it. It is their favorite. They hope it will cheer them up on this Green day. No one likes Green days because the music is bad, the responsibility of recycling is too much and the school work is always hard.

“Hey, after our pizza, maybe we should mirror somewhere,” Mark says.

Mirroring is a new technology. In addition to using a mirror for reflection, people in Atlas can transport themselves across the country and the world to various time periods, both back and forward in time.

“Maybe we should go to Ranger?” suggests Emma. “Maybe there will be a party or something else more exciting there?”

Just then, the doorbell rings. Outside, the drone from Cloud Eats is hovering and making quite a ruckus.

The drone says, ”Thank you for ordering with Cloud Eats. Your total is $25,000. Would you like to add a tip?”

Dan adds a $5000 tip.

“Please leave the pizza, Drone.”

The drone leaves the pizza and says robotically, “Wait, isn’t it a Green Day? Pizza is not a healthy choice.”

Dan smirks and says, “Well, Puffer McPufferson’s pizza has pineapples on it. Doesn’t that count?”

Dan takes the pizza back to his friends and says, “Well that drone was tough. But at least we got our pizza.”

Once they finish the pizza, Mark asks if anyone would like dessert.

Emma says, “We can get dessert in Ranger. Maybe they won’t be as tough as that drone about unhealthy foods.”

Mark says, “First, we need to find the key to the mirror before we can go anywhere.”

They all start looking around the whole house. Mark finally finds the key in the most obvious place, the “key drawer.”

He says, “I found it! But there is one problem. My parents have the mirror app on their phones. They will know that we went somewhere, and if they realize it’s me, I’m dead meat.”

“So we’ll just put it on incognito mode,” says Jenn. “We should also hide our evidence that we were here at all. Hide the pizza boxes and the key.”

“Ok, so let’s go,” Mark agrees as he puts the pizza boxes in the recycle bin.

The mirror has three users: Mark’s parents and Mark. So, all they need to do is use the key and tell the mirror where they want to go.

“We would like to go to Ranger, please. Present day,” Mark tells the mirror.

“You are too young to go without your parents,” says the mirror.

“No, I’m not,” Mark replies. “I’m 40,” he lies.

Mark sets the mirror to his parents’ usernames. The mirror says, “Hello, Bob. Hello, Mary. Where to?”

“Ranger, present day,” Mark says again.

“Before you go, please enter the password,” requests the mirror.

“Guys, I don’t remember the password,” worries Mark.

“Let’s try backtothefuture76,” says Emma. “It’s your parents’ favorite movie and number.”

“Nice thinking Emma,” Mark says.

Mark types the password nervously…

“BEEP BOOP BEEP BOOP! Access granted.”

“YAY!” they shout.

“Let’s head in,” Mark says.

As they enter the town of Ranger, one of the many towns in Atlas, they feel like they are in a dream. Drones are as big as cars. The children are amazed that they can not only control the drone, they can actually be in it and control it from the inside. Robots have taken over humans’ jobs and humans are now into reselling shoes and retro items. The Mark Messier statue in the middle of Ranger town comes alive if you throw a coin in. It helps you escape the town which is a huge maze. Each maze in the town is very different, some mazes become roller coasters and some maze floors become tilted.

Impulsive Dan throws a coin into the statue. Emma, Mark, and Jenn all looked puzzled.

“Why would you do that?” Jenn asks.


At that moment, the statue moves and a voice says, “Hi, I’m glad you decided to join me in my journey to revive Atlas.” The voice was groggy and soft and everyone looked up. Mark, the kid, in big shock states in disbelief, “I thought you were a myth.” Messier announces, “Why does – Matteau – Matteau, why does my toe hurt?”

“Revive Atlas? Why does Atlas need reviving? Emma asks.

“Atlas is defined by a single color each day. One single color does not let you show all of your emotions. You need all of the colors of the rainbow to truly show how you feel everyday. Otherwise, life is boring,” Messier explains.

Mark gasps and says, “That is exactly how I feel!”

“Toe must be a clue!” exclaims Jenn. “He keeps saying toe.” As she says that, all four kids look down at the toe of Mark Messier and his toenail is a trap door into the maze. Before the trap door shuts, Mr. Messier says, “Wait for me, I have another trap door on the other side of town.” And he starts to move. The kids shake their heads and follow him.

The kids follow Messier to the start of a tunnel. It feels industrial with tile walls, cement floors, fans blowing overhead and flickering fluorescent lights. When they arrive in the waiting room, it feels like heaven to them. The walls are teal, the ceiling is pink and the floors are soft like a rabbit’s fur. There are cookies, candies, cakes and sodas waiting for them. It seems so colorful, unlike the town that they came from. They all hope the goodies are for them.

Messier arrives and sees the group waiting for him. He offers them the sweet morsels of deliciousness and starts to explain the maze. The maze in Ranger town is not that long, but has many red herrings that can fool even the best puzzlers. To be successful, you must be smart. The children will have to be brave, knowledgeable, quick and alert. Messier will continue to be their guide, but he cannot help them solve the puzzles. He wishes them luck and starts to guide them to the first part of the maze.

The kids walk through a doorway into another room. They see an old, western style farmhouse. The room has a dirt floor and smells like a farm. The house is dusty and made of old grayish brown wood. Everything is the same color. A white sign with red letters tells them they are looking for the letters S, W, O, T and R. They split up to search the house.

Mark and Emma run up the stairs to the top floor. Jenn and Dan decide to search the first floor. Mark and Emma quickly find a ukelele, a lock with a key in it, an old glass flask and a magic marker. They have no idea which of these things could help solve the puzzle, so they bring the items downstairs. Jenn and Dan arrive with an energy drink, a headset, and a microphone. They are totally perplexed. They bring the items to the front of the house to sort everything out.

Jenn says, “What do the letters we are supposed to find mean? Some Would Offer To Run?”

“That can’t be it,” says Dan.

Mark is humming in the background while the others think.

“What are you humming, Mark?” asks Emma.

“Oh, just Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” Mark replies.

“Wait, that’s it!” Jenn yells with excitement. “If you think about the title of the song, the first letter in each word is S, W, O, T, R!”

Mark grabs the ukulele and Emma plugs in the microphone. She puts on the headset and the two start to sing the song together.

“Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up high. There’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby.” CLICK, CLACK, CLICK. The children watch in astonishment as the bolts on the door to the next room start to move. The door opens with a heavy clunk. The next room is bright with a sense of the future in it. They rush inside.

“This is more color than I ever imagined possible!” says Mark.

“It’s crazy!” says Emma.

Dan’s jaw drops to the floor and Jenn’s eyes turn into hearts. The room is full of brightly colored lights. There are thousands of boxes of Lucky Charms cereal all over the room. They see another white sign with pink lettering. It says, “Look for Mr. Lucky Charm. He will give you a hint about where to find his rainbow.”

“There are so many Mr. Lucky Charms on all of these boxes. How will we ever find the one who is going to give us the clue to find the rainbow for Atlas?” complains Emma.

“Maybe it is one of those Spot the Difference puzzles,” Mark suggests.

Mark starts to organize the boxes so the group can compare them. He moves them against the wall in groups of ten. The kids decide that they will separate any boxes that are different. After working for an hour, they have ten boxes remaining that have some differences. In some, Mr. Lucky Charm has his hands up. In others, he has his leg up. But in only one box, Mr. Lucky Charm is winking.

“This must be it!” Jenn exclaims.

“YEAH!” says everyone else.

“But what do we have to do to get the hint?” asks Dan.

“Maybe we have to wink back,” declares Emma.

“Smart,” remarks Mark.

“Jenn you do this one,” Mark says.

Jenn winks. DING.

“One box is red, one box is blue, follow the rainbow and you’ll know what to do,” the imaginary leprechaun rhymes.

Once the poem was over, there were glowing rainbow lights on the ground and the leprechaun said, “Follow the rainbow path.” The lights were pulsating and showed the children where to go. They started to slowly follow the lines and felt a cool breeze. In the middle of the journey down the path, the leprechaun came back and said, “Hurry up! We don’t have all day!” The kids started sprinting after the lights. At the end of the path, they saw a big teal house. Waiting for them on the porch of the house were two more boxes of Lucky Charms. One was all red and one was all blue.

Mark remarked, “Maybe it’s one of those ‘pick incorrectly and you get slimed’ challenges, like on TV?”

“In Atlas, Red means no anger and Blue means no sadness. So if we pick the blue one, maybe we will find happiness?” suggests Jenn.

They all agree on the plan. Jenn carefully opens the blue box. Inside, there is not the usual mix of cereal and marshmallows. The whole box is full of only rainbow marshmallows! Jenn takes out a handful of the sugary treats. She looks down and finds an empty bottle at her feet. “This might be what we have to carry the rainbow home with.” states Jenn. She plops the marshmallows into the bottle and takes enough out of the box to fill the bottle (She also eats a few.).

“Wow, you guys are intelligent and great puzzlers!” Messier exclaims.”To figure out the way home, you need to solve one more riddle. Is home left, is home right, you’ll never know until it is night.”

The children decide to go back to the Lucky Charms room to wait until nightfall. They are all starving. They haven’t eaten since they finished their Puffer McPufferson’s pizza. A few hours later, they look outside the window and see that it is finally dark. They see an illuminated doorway.

“That must be where we have to go,” states Dan. The children start running towards the door. Messier is following close behind. On the count of three, all four children turn the doorknob and the door bursts open. They see the mirror that brought them to Ranger town.

“This is where I leave you, children,” says Messier. “I’m so happy that you completed the mission to revive Atlas. If you ever want to visit, just come back to Ranger and toss a coin into my statue. I will be waiting to see you again. Good luck!”

They all hug goodbye and the kids step through the mirror one at a time. Jenn goes last and holds on tightly to the rainbow-filled bottle.

When they arrive back in Mark’s living room, Jenn carefully gives the bottle to Mark. “I know you have been searching for this for a very long time,” she says. Mark takes the bottle from Jenn with a knowing smile. He fills the bottle of rainbows with some water left over from their pizza party and watches as the rainbows dissolve into a swirl of color. The kids gather together outside on the porch. Everyone puts a hand onto the bottle. Mark opens the bottle and they all pour the colorful concoction into the ground. They watch as all of Atlas becomes the colors of the rainbow. This is what Mark has been dreaming of, a world full of happiness and light. The group puts their arms around one another. They are so proud for accomplishing this outstanding achievement and changing the lives of others in Atlas.