The Winchester Guide to Life, the Universe and Everything

Chapter 4

The Crowley Guide to Crossroads Demons, Deals and Death


Self-Damnation in 12 Easy Steps

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I recently came to be in the debt of one Dean Winchester, more commonly known to angels and demons alike as "The Righteous Man." As a mere human, you probably don't know his name, would take him for a rootless, uneducated drifter – which he is – and would cross the street in dismay and distrust if you saw him approaching you on a busy thoroughfare. Regardless of what you, as a pathetic specimen of humanity, do or do not know, I am bound by a certain deal that I should have known better than to make. The Deal stipulates that I must write an honest and detailed guide to Crossroads Demons and the unique opportunities that they can open up for those with the necessary ambition and a complete disregard for the ultimate disposition of their immortal souls. As much as I am loath to comply with this clause of the contract, here goes nothing.

1. The setting: Location, location, location. We're called Crossroads Demons for a reason.

2. I do not recommend attempting to summon a Crossroads Demon in the middle of a busy intersection, say Times Square. If you get hit by a Lexus before you make your deal, well, that sucks for both of us, mate.

3. Any intersection which has been paved is a poor choice. You don't want to dig your way through several feet of asphalt, gravel, concrete and lime. For one thing, the Crossroads Demon you're summoning might just decide you're too stupid to make a deal and not show up at all.

4. Dirt or gravel roads are the best traditional locations, and contrary to urban mythology, they do not have to be in "The South." We are sophisticated and experienced world travelers. We'll be just as happy to answer your call in Malaysia as Louisiana. I, myself, am particularly fond of Myanmar.

5. Proper comportment: Do not bring a dog with you to the meet for protection. One, it's insulting, and two, I guarantee mine's bigger than yours.

6. Do not bother bringing holy water, salt or any other such pathetic protections to the meet. No Crossroads Demon would ever attack during negotiations. It isn't done, mate. Besides, if you piss your buyer off enough, no one will buy your pathetic little soul. There are six billion more of you sodding clowns after all.

7. The time: Time is as important as location when it comes to wheeling and dealing.

8. Midnight is the traditionally accepted time for making crossroads pacts, but 3:00 a.m. is also popular. Something to do with that fellow from Nazareth. If you're a traditionalist at heart, go for one of these.

9. Ultimately, the time of day is irrelevant. We're just as happy to make our deals in the sunlight as the moonlight. But if you do go in for daytime bargaining, just make certain you choose a nice, secluded location. Interruptions are never a good thing for either side in serious negotiations.

10. Time of year can also be a factor in setting up these meetings. We, like every other service provider in the world, are especially busy around the holidays. If you choose to open negotiations between All Hallows Eve and St. Valentine's Day, be aware that there may be a slight delay in the arrival of your Crossroads Demon.

11. If you summon a Crossroads Demon on October 31, any national day of "Thanksgiving," December 25, December 31, Chinese New Year or February 14, there will almost certainly be a major delay in the arrival of your Crossroads Demon. Be patient, be respectful and be conciliating. We can be as cranky as any other overworked bastard at that time of year.

12. In addition to a delay in arrival, if you summon a Crossroads Demon on a major international holiday, they won't have much time to spend with you, so be prepared to keep matters brief. Know what you want. Get it out. Get it done. Get gone.

13. If you really need time for extended negotiations, please avoid the holiday rush altogether.

14. The summoning ritual: This varies from culture to culture. Choose whatever works for you. As long as your make a good faith effort and really mean it, we'll show up.

15. Every crossroads ritual in existence includes some less than pleasant component. This serves to weed out the pansies and leave the market open for those interested in serious bargaining.

16. The Crossroads Demon itself: Traditionally, men get a woman, women get a man and those of indeterminate gender or sexual orientation get our best guess. If the wrong sort shows up, don't take it personally. It just means we're too busy to customize.

17. All models are guaranteed to be attractive with good hygiene and excellent manners.

18. The seller: The human soul is an extremely valuable commodity. That said, some souls are more valuable than others. Know your worth and bargain accordingly.

19. If you are uncertain of your own worth – which you no doubt are, or you wouldn't be selling your soul in the first bloody place – consult a reliable expert.

20. Souls currently in demand: hunters, priests, nuns, monks, kindergarten teachers, astronauts, lion tamers, national heroes, science fiction authors, librarians and engineers.

21. Souls of which way we have a surfeit: Western politicians, Wall Street bankers, Communist party leaders, African warlords, South American dictators, bored housewives, would-be celebrities, conservationists, Yuppies, anyone involved in the , fashion models, dentists, 90-pound weaklings and ichthyologists.

22. So, to sum up, if you happen to be a hunter who is also a member of some holy order and has training as teacher, astronaut, librarian or lion tamer, you can pretty much write your own ticket.

23. If your soul has not yet matured, please be so kind as wait an additional decade before attempting to sell said soul. There are rules about this sort of thing. We are not allowed to make deals with children. In my opinion this is a good thing or Hell would be full to bursting with little girls who just wanted a pony. As I am not fond of children, you can imagine my relief that this has not come to pass.

24. Under the laws of Hell, a child is defined as any person whose soul has not matured. Therefore, human laws regarding the legal age of majority are irrelevant. We have sometimes made deals with twelve-year-olds and have regretfully turned away men in their forties who suffered from certain developmental disorders. If we can't help you, we simply can't help you. Please, no tantrums.

25. Opening negotiations:The Crossroads Demon will give you exactly what you ask for, nothing more and nothing less, so be specific in your requests.

26. If you really do not know what you want, the Crossroads Demon will be happy to make suggestions. However, this can be embarrassing for everyone, so please think ahead.

27. Traditionally speaking, there is a one soul/one request policy. Practically speaking, this is always open to amendment.

28. A crossroads pact is like any other contract. You can add riders, addendums, clauses, codicils, etc., et al.

29. The product: You can ask for anything you like, that doesn't mean that you necessarily get your initial request. It's called a negotiation for a reason.

30. People tend to underestimate and simultaneously overestimate the wares that Crossroads Demons have to offer. That being said, allow me to provide some clarification. We can make you wealthy, famous, talented, attractive, successful or powerful in a general sort of way. We can bring back the dead if the body is largely intact. Once a certain level of decay has set in, this becomes more difficult. It doesn't hurt to ask, but the answer may be a regretful, "No." If we cannot bring back a deceased loved one, we may be able to provide you with a reasonable facsimile. Don't knock it until you've tried it.

31. First and foremost, we cannot give you happiness. Don't ask. It gets old. We can't just make you happy. If we could, there wouldn't be an independent soul left on Earth. You have to ask for what you think will make you happy and then hope that you asked for the right thing. If it turns out you were wrong, that's your problem. Caveat emptor.

32. We don't do time travel. We will not send you back. We will not send you forward. We will not let you see the future.

33. We don't do super powers. If you want to be able to fly, cast magic, talk to the dead, etc., then you need to make an entirely different sort of deal than a crossroads pact. Find a demon who suits your particular personality, sell your soul to them directly and take up the practice of demon-sponsored witchcraft. This is your safest bet, and it doesn't come with the slightly shortened lifespan that a crossroads pact entails.

34. We cannot fundamentally change the world as a whole. Therefore, we will not make you king of the world, set you up in your own personal colony on Mars, make you a god, demi-god or Bill Gates. He just happened naturally. Don't blame us. Oh, and Elvis has left the building. We do not bring back dead celebrity icons. It upsets people and confuses the icons.

35. While we can rig elections, we prefer to stay out of politics as it is too murky and slimy, even for us. So, we'll help you get elected to the state assembly or the Board of Directors for the Boy Scouts of America, but that's about as high as we'll go. It's a matter of principle.

36. Once the deal is finalized with a kiss, there can be no further negotiations, amendments or changes of any kind on either side.

37. Terms of duration: Most crossroads deals are made for a term of ten years. This is negotiable, but you had better be on the highly desirable acquisition list if you want to get an agreement that will last more than a decade. If you are one of those souls of which we already have a surfeit, you may have to settle for a slightly more short term deal.

38. Accepted clauses: By participating in a crossroads deal, you are stipulating that you will surrender your soul to Hell at the end of the term of duration in your contract. This is a relatively minor inconvenience, however, and nothing you really need to worry your poor little brains over.

39. By accepting the terms of the crossroads deal, you are agreeing to spend your afterlife as a demon. This need not, however, mean an eternity in Hell. Any self-respecting demon worth his… sulfur can claw his way back into the sunshine where he can wreak havoc to his heart's content and then party at the best destination locations until Judgment Day.

40. Collection: You need not concern yourself with paying your bill when your contract comes due. We will send our collection agents to you any time of the day or night and in any location. It's a special service we provide to our clients at no extra charge. We're just considerate that way.

41. Should you attempt to dodge our collections agents, things can get messy and there may be collateral damage to your friends, family, business and place of residence.

42. In closing: Don't think of it as selling your soul. Think of it as buying a decade of bliss, a few trifling years of minor unpleasantness, and an eternity of power, prowess and promise. Being a demon – it isn't just for fallen angels anymore. I look forward to working with you all. Toodles.