One hot summer afternoon Charlie the Goose decided to fly over to Walnut Creek Park, one of his favorite swimming holes near Charlottesville. Bumble the Bee said he wanted to come along. It was a long way for a bee to fly, though, so he hitched a ride on Charlies back.
"You are one lazy bee, Bumble!" Charlie grumbled good-naturedly as they lifted off the ground.
"Ha, ha," Bumble giggled, grabbing hold of Charlies back feathers. "I just know how to travel in style, thats all."
On their way, they passed over their friend, Annebelle the Collie and waved. Annebelle barked and chased after them for a while, but she was on her way to her own favorite swimming hole, one a little closer to home.
So Charlie and Bumble flew across the county, over neighborhoods and highways, hills and fields, all the way to southern Albemarle. After a while, they reached a place called Red Hill Quarry, where people took gravel from Dudley Mountain to make roads and cement.
Charlie flew around the Red Hill Quarry a couple times so he and Bumble could see all the dump trucks and heavy machinery at work.
"Sure is loud and dusty," Bumble remarked, wiping sweat from his eyebrow. "Glad I dont have to work there on a hot summer day."
"Im tired," Charlie said. "Lets stop here and rest a minute."
"But its just a few more miles to Walnut Creek, Charlie, you can make it."
"Easy for you to say," Charlie squawked. "Im doing all the work!"
Charlie found a soft, shady spot to land way up on top of the mountain, just above the quarrys big pit. The quarry was round and very deep, with giant piles of gravel everywhere. Some people were driving big Excavators, which were really huge, long shovels. They picked up a scoopful and dropped it with a loud "bang" into the dump trucks. Then the trucks drove off to take the gravel to cement factories or places where other people were doing road work.
"Well, if youre just going to sit around, then Im going to find a snack," Bumble buzzed as he flew away, down into the quarry. "Watching all these people work is making me thirsty."
"Be careful!" Charlie called, but the bee couldnt hear him above all the noise and commotion. Besides, Bumble was only thinking about one thing: a can of soda that one of the people had left on the ground. Charlie just shook his head as he watched Bumble disappear into the cans opening. "That bee will do anything for a bit of sugar."
Suddenly, there was a high-pitched, screaming sound-like a siren-that seemed to fill the whole quarry and surrounding mountains. All the men below ran or drove away as fast as they could. Then, Charlie saw a sign right next to Bumbles can that read "DANGER: BLASTING AREA."
"Bumble, watch out!" Charlie yelled. "Theyre going to set off the dynamite!"
A moment later there was a loud "BOOM!" Dust and rocks filled the quarry. Charlie had to duck as little pebbles and bits of dirt showered down out of the sky. When the sky had cleared, Charlie saw that Bumbles soda can wasnt there anymore! The goose flew down into the quarry, squawking and flapping, thinking, "that bees going to have one bad headache."
Charlie found the dented, dust-covered soda can and, sure enough, Bumble was still inside. The bee stumbled out of the can and burped. Charlie the Goose sighed with relief.
"Whew!" Bumble exclaimed. "That was some good soda! You should try a sip, Charlie. Its like a rollercoaster ride. Of course, you probably cant fit in the can, but...
"Just hop on, Bumble," Charlie laughed in relief and bent over to let Bumble climb up on his back. "Lets go for a swim so you can wash that sticky soda out of your wings."
Mike L. Ford is the author of historical novels for kids of all ages. A North Garden native, he now lives in beautiful Greene County with his wife Holly, heir new baby, and their two dogs.