"Spring Cleaning" took first place in On the Premises "21 and up" contest/issue 22, and they routinely run these contests (no fee), so check them out some time. Funny too, because this is only the second time I've entered one of their contests. Last time it was humor, and obviously our senses of humor didn't match up.
Oh, and one of the nicest things that any editor has ever said about one my stories:
Congratulations on writing the first place story! I loved this one and wasn’t surprised at all when the other judges did too. Of the ten finalists, yours was the only story not to receive a “no” vote by any judge. (Even our second and third place finishers had one detractor apiece.)
If that ain't flattery, I don't know what is!
As for the story itself, the inspiration was something I stumbled on while researching about the leyak--the Indonesian version of the penanggalan, except it's a bit more of a shape-shifting sorcerer. (I swear, East Asia has the coolest creatures.) And I came across this tidbit from a brochure site of all places!
Nyepi. Once a year, at the spring equinox, every community holds a general cleaning-out of devils, driving them out of the village with magical curses and rioting by the entire population. This is followed by a day of absolute stillness, the suspension of all activity, from which the ceremony takes its name. Nyepi marks they New Year and the arrival of spring, the end of the troublesome rainy season, when even the earth is said to be sick and feverish (panas). It is believed that then the Lord of Hell, Yama, sweeps Hades of devils, which fall on Bali, making it imperative that the whole of the island be purified.
So I fell in love with the idea of a poor little demon who is, quite literally, swept out of Hell and has survive on Earth. "As expected, Earth was a terrible, terrible place. At least in Hell, he was dry and warm."
By the way, "Bantu" means "help" in Bahasa Indonesia. Also, shadow-puppetry or "shadow play" is a pastime in Indonesia. See, I do my research. :)