I

Jasper clambered up the metal post, grabbing the railing and swinging himself up onto his front porch.  Claws scrabbling on the crinkly foil front stoop, he pulled himself up into his bedroom loft.  He sighed with satisfaction as he inhaled the invigorating aroma of hamburgers and hotdogs.

Only a few days before, Jasper had been homeless, sneezing in the sopping grass and damp dirt in a hole beneath a tree.  The moist environment played havoc on his sinuses, and he always seemed to have a head cold.  Then, while he was out scavenging one day, he scented a lovely, smoky aroma.  At the end of the trail it created, Jasper discovered his new domicile.  A warm, dry, cozy cave that would protect him from predatory cats and snakes and head colds—what more could he ask for?

II

Jasper was snuffling in his sleep when he jolted awake to the sound of thumping and the thunderous bark of a dog right outside his bedroom.  He quivered instinctively for a moment, then reassured himself, It’s all right.  Nothing can get to me here.  Calming his shaking nerves, Jasper sat back on his haunches and peered around in the dark.

Then his roof disappeared, and Jasper went blind.  Bright sunlight doused him, and he cowered for a moment, protecting his eyes.  A cloud passed over the sun, and Jasper raised his head, the cloud looked at him and blinked and yelled, and his roof fell with a clang.  More barking and yelling.  Jasper’s paws were over his head.  Every moment, he expected the world to end and his home to collapse around him.  When several minutes had passed and the noises had died away, Jasper peered out between his paws.  He scrambled to the opening over his front porch.  With a crinkly thud, Jasper landed and shimmied down the post beside the platform.  Scurrying behind a giant orange bolder with a small bush growing out of it, Jasper peered back at his home.  Perhaps he should monitor it for a little while to see if it was safe to return.  Jasper lay down, munching on a leaf he had pulled from the plant above him, and stared intently at his home, ready to flee at the first sign of danger.

III

Every time Jasper nodded off, bad things seemed to happen.  This time, Jasper’s nap was disturbed by another volley of thumping, and he started up just in time to see a mammoth figure towering over his house, pulling off the roof, slamming it down again, and rolling the structure away from Jasper’s hideout behind the boulder.  The figure and the house disappeared around the corner of the mountain in the shadow of which Jasper’s house had nestled.

Jasper hesitated, devastated and immobile.  Where was his house being taken?  Would he ever see it again?  Gathering his courage in both paws, Jasper blocked out all thoughts of danger and dashed off in the direction his home had disappeared.  He wasn’t about to relinquish his new home that easily.

IV

Rounding the mountainside, Jasper spied his house been lifted into a giant thing that was all shiny and black and bulbous on four big circles like mushrooms turned sideways.  In a last spurt of desperation, Jasper scaled one of the fake mushrooms and slung himself in after his house.  Jasper hoisted himself up the pole, onto his porch, and then into his bedroom.  He wasn’t going to part with his house again, and there was nowhere else to hide.

A rumble began, and the floor vibrated.  Then Jasper found himself lurching one way and then another, bouncing off the walls of his house several times before managing to brace himself in a corner.  This continued for a while before the shaking and the noise abruptly stopped.  Something heavy slammed.  Then the ominous thumping approached, and Jasper heard a grunt and his home plunged downward, causing him to almost slide out onto his porch.

After a few minutes, the motion stopped, the noises receded, and Jasper’s breathing finally returned to normal.  Exhausted, Jasper fell into a light doze.

V

This time, his growling stomach was what awoke him.  Jasper rubbed his belly, groaned a bit as he stretched his stiff and bruised muscles, and then cautiously lowered himself out of his house.  What he saw as he landed on his front porch and surveyed the view convinced him that he must have died and gone to paradise.  Sunlight streamed down in golden puddles, and he was surrounded by enough food to feast on for a year and home improvement materials that would be perfect for furnishing his new house.  He inhaled the new, odorous air and smiled toothily.  Perhaps it’s true, he thought.  There is a silver lining in every cloud, even the ones that blink and scream and try to kidnap your house.

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