The devil game

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Pray, for devils have no reason

Satan waits to curse your ways

Have you seen it in his eyes in the sunset?

Have you wondered if he's laughing when he plays?

 —Kansas, "The Devil Game"

This is a set of instructions for how to speak with the Devil.

Which, as those of you with any sort of brains at all might note, is a patently moronic proposition on the face of it; one likely to culminate in any number of thoroughly unpleasant fates. Honestly, it would probably be smarter to publish your credit card number on Facebook, or take up a career in crocodile-wrestling.

But then, that isn't going to stop you, is it? Not if you're sincerely interested, at least. Technically, if you do everything just right, there's a fair chance you'll walk away scot-free; and that seems to be reason enough for some people to decide that it's a good idea. Especially if you're the fate-tempting, thrill-seeking, scare-junkie type. Or the desperate type.

Which brings me to a point of clarification I ought to make. This is NOT a manual for making any kind of Faustian bargain—you know, the whole sell-your-soul type of deal. Although if you happened to bring it up in conversation, he certainly wouldn't be one to refuse. Following through with such a foolhardy bargain, however, would necessitate removing some the protections which you will put in place for your conversation, and I don't think I need to spell out for you why that would be a bad idea. If you're really mathematically impaired enough to want to trade something that will last an infinite number of years for something that might last about ninety (tops), there are plenty of other rituals out there for you to follow. This one, if performed correctly, should only allow the two of you to talk.

This, perhaps, begs the question of why exactly you would want to speak with the Devil in the first place. (Maybe some of you just like the idea of making small talk with extremely dangerous occult entities, but for the sake of the human race I hope most of you aren't quite that stupid.) Short answer is: he knows things. Things that some of you may have a deep, vested interest in finding out. I mean, he's not omniscient or anything—much as he might like to pretend otherwise, he's not God—but he's definitely got a supernatural advantage over the kind of knowledge any human would be able to obtain. For example, he probably wouldn't be able to predict when the next World War will happen, or tell you the cure for cancer... but he could very well be able to predict the winning numbers of tomorrow's five-hundred million dollar Powerball drawing, or tell you what deadly, undiagnosed condition might be afflicting one of your loved ones.

Of course, the Prince of Darkness doesn't just go around giving out winning lottery numbers to anybody who asks. And trusting any sort of information obtained from a being commonly described as "the father of all lies" is liable to land you in a worse situation than you were in when you started. However, if you're really dead set on finding something out, and you're exhausted all other options, there IS a way to try to get accurate information out of the guy.

You see, like so many of the more urbane villains in popular culture, the Devil has a bit of a penchant for games and gambling. Of course, the reason he likes them so much is that he almost always wins. Unless you happen to be a fiddler named Johnny or are being represented by Daniel Webster, you're probably going to get your ass handed to you. But, if you're determined enough to want to face the risks and the long odds, there's a certain game the two of you could play to try to win the information you need.

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