Considering those of you reading this are exploring such a darkened corner of the internet, my guess is you want to see something supernatural. If what you desire is to see something truly strange, something that will prove to you that there is something out there in the darkness, go to any deserted stream in the dead of night. Depending on your location, your journey to find a river far removed from the influence of men may be long or arduous, but if you’re fortunate you will find them. They are called the Washers.
You will know a Washer by her appearance. They are always female, and their clothes are always green, torn, and caked in grime. They have the appearance of hags; matted scraggly grey hair, necrotic grey skin, and a mouth full of yellow, rotten teeth.
They may sound like any zombie or ghost, but there is one feature that sets them apart and gives them their name. If you find one, they will always be washing something in the water – clothes, to be precise. Like laundresses in days of old, they work with only a quiet stream for company.
If you are observant, you will see that the stains the Washers scrub away are turning the water red.
There is a reason for this; it is because the clothes belong to the dead. Washers are tasked with cleaning a dead person’s belongings for their final journey. They can rid bloodstains of the fatally wounded, dirt from the grave, or chemicals from the embalming process. No matter what the fate of the dead may be, a Washer’s work assures those that have died will leave for the next world in a presentable manner.
When you find one, such a thing can be a terrifying sight to behold, but the brave may still find opportunity in their encounter. For instance, Washers possess intimate knowledge of the dead. Anyone looking for information of any kind will likely get it if they speak with a Washer.
For example, they know who will be the next to die. In ancient times, warriors who found a Washer on their way to battle could learn who among them would return. Villagers could learn if important people in their communities would soon pass away.
This may seem like a macabre use of the Washers’ knowledge, but for our ancestors this was vital information. Death was much more prevalent and unpredictable in the past. Leaders, friends, and family could die at any time for any number of reasons; the kind people that could be important to another's survival. Learning of their death beforehand offered much needed time for the living to prepare for the departure of those they previously depended on.
However, don’t bother trying to learn the manner of your own death, or to prevent the death of someone else. There is no way to circumvent the predictions of a Washer. Much like the Greek tragedies of old, your attempts to change fate will lead to your downfall.
This kind of knowledge can still be useful in the modern world, but there is even more a Washer can do. Great rewards can be attained if you adhere to the following.
Once you have spotted a Washer by her stream, do everything that you can to approach her without detection. This will be difficult, for all Washers have acute hearing. If she hears you she will disappear like a vapor, and you will have to try again at another time.
You must successfully get within three steps of her and ask in the most polite voice you can muster: “If you could madam, I must make an exchange with you.”
Her response to your proposal will be to ask you three questions. Her questions could cover anything; factual questions of science or history to strange nonsense riddles. She may even ask you personal details – things that you may not want to share with such a stranger. Whatever you do, don’t hold back, and if you don’t know the answer it is alright to tell her so. She will understand.
If you cannot give her an answer or give an incorrect one, she will shake her head and gruffly tell you to leave. Do so if you value your sanity, and simply be thankful that you have left unscathed.
If you outright lie to her she will cease speaking entirely, no matter what you may say or do to get a response. At this point, if you try to reach out she will disappear. Whatever your actions, upon your return home you will be cursed with the worst luck imaginable. Losing your job, losing your home, the death of loved ones, and your own health failing are all events that will likely occur – if you manage to live long enough.
If you succeed in giving her truthful, correct answers, she will allow you to ask three questions of your own. This is the time for you to learn of lost knowledge, or that which may be inaccessible to you otherwise. She will give you correct and honest information. As with all things in this world, she is not omniscient and she will tell you if she doesn’t have an answer to one of your questions. This is highly unlikely, but if this is the case, she will kindly allow you to substitute a different question. A tough but fair spirit, if there ever is one.
However, if you are truly daring, or perhaps desperate, taking the greatest risk will reveal the extent of a Washer’s power.
So often a Washer’s clothes are so tattered that much of their decayed skin is exposed, and if you are close enough to ask her questions, you are close enough to slowly face her directly. She will make no move and continue to work. What you must do is reach out to one of her deflated, sagging breasts and suckle it as if you are a hungry infant. If you succeed in this, she will recognize you as her child and fulfill for you one wish. Whatever your desire may be, it will come to pass on your journey home.
A warning here is necessary, though. Be careful in this attempt because if the clothes she washes are observed too closely, you will find that they are your own, and you will meet your demise by her hands before the night is over.