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S.S. Yongala



Estimated reading time — 7 minutes

The tropical waters were warm, even on a night dive, but Aaron still wore a wetsuit. He switched on the video camera attached to his mask, then pressed the start button on his waterproof wristwatch. 70:00 popped up in black against a staunch grey background, and quickly turned to 69:59, then 69:58, 69:57. The countdown had begun. He pressed the diving mask tight against his face and splashed into the water.

The glow from the waning moon disappeared within seconds, too weak to penetrate the deep waters of the sea. Aaron’s excitement was heightened by the rich darkness. Ghosts were always more active at night.

Time stood still below the water’s surface where darkness expanded endlessly in every direction. Bubbles rose from Aaron’s mask as he exhaled, taking one last look at the bottom of his boat. He shined a flashlight into the void beneath his feet. What he was looking for lay cloaked in darkness, 70 feet below on the seabed, and it was time to start his descent.

Aaron relieved the pressure on his eardrums continuously as he sank into the dark bluish haze. It took only seconds to reach a depth of 40 feet. If he was on target, the deck of the S.S. Yongala should be visible beneath him, but there was only blue in every direction. He swam in small zigzags, waiting for the ghost ship to emerge from the darkness.

Something bumped Aaron’s leg. He dropped the flashlight and turned toward the cold caress to see a dark shadow looming beside him. Wide eyed and frightened he tried to scream, jetting the regulator from his mouth while violently kicking to escape the creature.

As the shadow moved away, Aaron looked into the darkness after it: Behind him, in front, above, below. It could be anywhere. He became aware of a burning in his lungs and the panic increased. Reaching up and over with his right arm, he searched for the regulator, finally bumping his hand against a long hose that he pulled to his lips. Salt water invaded his mouth while he pressed the purge valve before taking a life-giving breath.

Shivering with fear, Aaron retrieved the flashlight from its long cord and pointed it into the gloom. An enormous grouper hovered a few feet away, investigating the invader to its territory. Aaron’s muscles relaxed. Not only was this hulking fish harmless, it was also a sign he was close to the artificial reef created by the wreckage of the Yongala. He followed the slow moving fish, fanning his flashlight back and forth beneath him.

57:18. A chill ran up Aaron’s spine when an enormous shape materialized in the void. The hollow remains of the majestic passenger ship loomed in front of him, concealed in corals and shadow: the gravesite of 122 souls lost at sea over 100 years ago. Aaron checked the full-spectrum camera, EVP recorder, and EMF meter on his belt. The familiar feeling of adrenaline coursed through his veins, driving him on; this was what he came for.

Aaron swam over the coral encrusted skeleton of rusted window frames where tiny silver fish darted in and out of the darkness. He used landmarks along the ship in search of his destination; the aft mast, the engine room, and the galley were all visible before an inky black chasm near the bow appeared in the distance. The entrance to the front cargo hold, site of the only evident bones from the shipwreck. Aaron thrust forward eagerly and entered the forbidden remains of the S.S. Yongala where the wide ocean void was replaced by flaky walls of eroded steel. His hands were steady as he checked the EMF meter. The lights still glowed green; nothing yet.

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55:23. Aaron began his sweep of the room. He needed to save at least ten minutes for a safe ascent, and the clock was ticking.
Most of the contents within the cargo hold had long ago turned to sludge. The ground crawled with crustaceans and slithering sea snakes, but no matter how many times Aaron trekked back and forth, he saw no sign of human remains. His search continued so long, he began to worry the reports of bones might be a farce.

He kept his breathing steady while methodically scanning the floor. Just when Aaron made up his mind to quit the cargo hold to search elsewhere, an unnaturally straight object reflected off the beam of light. He drew closer and saw a knob on the end of it. It must be the famed femur bone reported by divers before him. The adrenaline rush returned, and he kicked toward the human remains without hesitation.

Taking advantage of his buoyancy, he hovered several feet over the femur bone while checking his equipment. It would be difficult to discern ghostly voices on an underwater recording, especially over the rumbling of his regulator, but he clicked on the EVP recorder anyway. The EMF meter was still in the green, so he brought the full-spectrum camera to his face.

Aaron took a dozen pictures of the femur bone and its surroundings, then shined the light in every direction to take pictures of the entire cargo hold. The pitch blackness of confinement impeded his flashlight, allowing less illumination than the infinite blue of the open sea. In the darkness, he waited. Ghost hunting was about patience, and he had been to enough haunts without sight or sound of a ghost for hours that he was well practiced in tenacity.

42:28. The EMF lights blinked yellow. Aaron looked around expectantly, excited to get an alarm so quickly, but he was alone. The yellow lights turned back to green.

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40:02. A scratching sound reverberated through the water. Aaron could not sense which direction it came from.

36:18. Aaron grew restless. He worried his dangerous descent had been in vain.

32:43. The EMF blipped yellow again, but only for a moment. Twenty minutes left.

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The Yongala groaned, its steel frame protesting against the watery grave. It was followed by a childlike cry for help. Aaron’s skin tingled, and he swung the flashlight around, catching nothing but blackness. He stared down at the EMF meter, but it had gone dead. He knocked the side of it with his flashlight, trying to coax it to life. With a burst of radiance, a dozen red pinprick lights flickered in the dark.

Warmth vanished from the water, leaving it icy cold. Aaron saw nothing supernatural with his naked eye, but still snapped dozens of pictures, hoping a glowing human figure or mystical ring of light would show up when he developed the negatives in the darkroom.

24:12. The nauseating sensation of listing from one side to the other seized him. Childish cries for help came from every direction, and Aaron’s blood chilled to the core. Despite his experience, Aaron’s courage faltered. The EMF meter cranked back up, flashing red lights this time. Dread overcame him and he headed for the hole in the deck, looking back one last time toward the abandoned bone.

In the darkness, a pale face wavered like white silk in a breeze. Aaron stopped his ascent and grabbed the camera. This could be irrefutable proof of a haunting, guaranteeing him recognition in the ghost-hunting community.

The face disappeared in seconds, but Aaron hovered near the exit. Now that he was closer to his escape route he felt safe, and decided to stay a few more minutes. The sight of a ghost had reinvigorated him, but the lights on the EMF meter went green and the temperature of the tropical waters warmed.

Shadows moved in the darkness, but when Aaron pointed his flashlight toward each anomaly, he saw only local sea creatures swimming past. A group of spotted manta rays glided overhead, just beyond the gaping hole of the cargo hold, causing a wavering in the still water. Aaron pointed his flashlight on their white undersides, watching the graceful undulation of their wings as they passed.

13:03. Time to leave. Disappointed that ten minutes passed and he had seen no more signs of the supernatural, Aaron took a final look around the cargo hold. He swept the darkness with his flashlight one last time, then conceded his defeat and swam toward the gaping exit above.

Aaron jerked in surprise when light flooded the chamber. The temperature plummeted, and in his shock he missed the exit, hitting his head on the splintering roof. He blinked against the jolt of pain, then saw clearly the cargo hold as it was in 1911, with over a hundred passengers crouched on the floor in fear. The Yongala listed severely, groaning as it swayed side to side. Aaron floated over the scene, an observer over the impossible vision of these doomed passengers, hiding from a storm in the bowels of their ship.
Wails and crying filled his ears, echoing like the hollow sound of waves in a conch shell.

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Vertigo ripped through Aaron’s senses. He couldn’t tell whether he was seeing the ghost ship or the real Yongala. Aiming for what he hoped was the exit, Aaron kicked against the freezing water, trying to escape the pleas for help below him. Time was running out. He burst into the warmth of the open sea, and the sight of blue and yellow fish swimming through the gently waving fingers of a white coral brought him back to his senses.

7:20. Back in the open sea, speed was the enemy. He must ascend slowly to avoid the pressure change tearing his lungs to shreds, so he pushed his fears deep inside to be dealt with later. Aaron kicked gently against the water, watching the wreckage of the Yongala disappear beneath his feet. He kept an eye on his depth gauge, fighting the urge to sprint to the surface.

Aaron hovered at 15 feet, his final safety stop, watching the timer to make sure he stayed a full five minutes. His heart had slowed to normal, the world returned to what it should be, and with nothing to occupy him but his thoughts, Aaron’s mood shifted from fear to excitement. All of his equipment was intact, and he felt sure of proving the wreck was haunted.

3:23. With a final farewell to the deep blue beneath his feet, Aaron kicked toward the surface. He looked up, expecting the marquis-shaped underside of his boat to come into view, but instead he saw the pearled, smoky form of a 120 foot ghost ship hovering overhead. His EMF meter shook free of its own accord, floating to his face and reflecting a dozen blinking red lights across his mask.

The phantom Yongala capsized in the calm water, struck by an invisible wave, and descended upon Aaron. Water whirlpooled in an indomitable current, dragging him relentlessly toward the sea floor. The enormous pressure in his chest and ears was crippling, and a rush of cold water accosted him as the ghost ship crashed into its 100 year old remains and disappeared, leaving Aaron alone at the bottom of the ocean.

:22. Aaron sat on the deck of the S.S. Yongala, 65 feet down, breathing his last thin gasp of air. If he rose to the surface, the pressure would tear through the soft tissue of his lungs and he would die in agony alone on his boat. It was better to stay here.

He released the waterproofing clasp on the EVP recorder, flooding its electronic insides with saltwater, then popped open the film canister of his camera. The red sweep-hand of the oxygen tank meter slipped to zero, and behind the plastic shield of his mask, Aaron’s eyes filled with fear. As he looked one last time at the endless expanse of blue overhead, the regulator slipped silently from his mouth.

Credit: Yarn_Spinner

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15 thoughts on “S.S. Yongala”

  1. Edits are up. I know its still not perfect… but hopefully I addressed the biggest issues. I know you mentioned putting the regulator in his mouth, but I didn’t add that; I always kind of thought that was implied along with the rest of his scuba gear I didn’t mention him putting on. :)

    1. Actually, I just re-read it, the edits do WONDERS!! It really helps me focus on the actual story instead of the small voice in my head going no no that’s not right… hah

  2. I am reading below about the issue with the technical details about SCUBA. Yes, sometimes people who have a passing knowledge about something like this, have to take what they know and use it with a little bit of license. Remember that people who do know about it, are going to be taken out of the story asking questions because they know its not correct.
    There is no safety stop on decent. The pressure is detrimental when either going too deep, or rising too fast without allowing air to escape the lungs (they can burst). The main issue with descending too fast though, is too much nitrogen in the blood (the bends). Also, I know that the countdown watch is useful for creating tension, but the amount of air you use on a dive varies with depth, so I would use more at 40ft than at 20ft. the watch would not be the final indicator for how much air you actually have in the tank.
    having said all that, the story was pretty good. as someone who dove on wrecks before, I can see how they would be very spooky, especially at night.

  3. Nicola Marie Jackson

    I’ve been and its really creepy. You go down holding a rope that’s attached to a bouy and the wreck so you can go there without getting lost. For me seeing the dark shape of the ship was the most unnerving bit. Genuinely creepy x

  4. Nicola Marie Jackson

    I understand what you’re saying and don’t expect you to change your opinion, I just thought the inaccuracies didn’t detract from tale. I get annoyed when reading a pasta set in an asylum where everyone is in a straight jacket at all times so I understand your point. Pet peeves are great! ??

    1. Nah your cool I just don’t like being called an ass by someone then having my writing preferences mocked and yes that assylum thing is pretty gimmicky or what about when they go to the basement instead of the car? Lol i don’t mind if things are broken or stuff it’s a great excuse but when the people are dumb it’s annoying lol :3

  5. Nicola Marie Jackson

    I did this wreck dive in 1999 and its a really creepy experience even in the daytime. The inaccuracies about the diving don’t bother me in the slightest, its a creepypasta, not a diving manual. I liked this very much 9/10.

  6. Thank you so much for your constructive criticism. I have submitted edits to correct my botched S.C.U.B.A. procedures. However, I would like to respectfully submit to you, I know it is “not allowed” to scuba dive alone. Aaron is intended to be an idiot.

  7. BenKrause_author

    Loved the story. As far as ghost stories go, it was unique and took the sub-genre to an interesting level. S.S. Yongala being a real ship made it all the more interesting. Suspense in the right areas, and for its length, did its job well.

    My biggest take away from it is when you a diver, don’t be dumb ass, know what you’re doing, and follow the rules; I like tales with moralistic narratives like that. As pointed out, by QuickBeam’s comment below (I’ll address that bit of asininity later), the diver character, Aaron, clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing. Then, I’ve been a connoisseur of horror for most of my life, and if the characters and situations were entirely realistic, then horror would be a dull and dead thing. Main characters and the horror “victims” need to be a little less than the intelligence of a rock, or at least one other person I can name in order to get in the situations to which they find themselves.

    Now… to address the naysayer below. Though a person has a right to their opinion, that doesn’t necessarily make it intelligent, well thought out, or correct. The fact that QuickBeam has seemed to get hung up on the diver (who is clearly portrayed in the story as being a moron by not following any of the main diving procedures) being stupid, seems to suggest a couple of things: 1. Trolls are among us and hiding under every bridge. 2. That we should beg for such a concrete realist to never write a horror story, as the characters would be much too intelligent to drive without a map, not walk down the dark hallway, or have not charged their phone before going out of the house. I would ask QuickBeam this: What part of creepypasta’s category of story telling is the most realistic? The ghosts, demons, aliens, or monsters? I’m curious… as none seem all too realistic to me, but maybe that’s because I am a skeptic. His comment discuses nothing of the content of this unique story, nor its parallel use of the supernatural and the historical. Likewise, for all of QuickBeam’s criticism, he does not address at any point what appears to be the moral of the story which is: know what you are doing. But then, that would be asking the commentor to be constructive in his feedback.

    1. Hey! I just got one accepted…unfortunately it’s the wrong version…but that’s currently being remedied. So there. it may not be a true creepypasta but goshdarnit I proved you wrong! Also the edit is much better, I’m sticking to that because that version…ugh. Don’t read it till it’s fixed XD. But my point is, i still did it and didn’t rely so heavily as some on cliches, I mean, not really any…lol. So what da ya say bout that!? Just came back to prove that point :3

    2. Also…ghosts and demons and aliens…the whole entire point is that it’s PLAUSIBLE, we don’t know. That’s why I find creepypastas..well creepy. That’s why the ocean is so frightening. Not the things we know about. The things we DONT know about. Just sayin. And in order to keep the realism, the setting and science should be factual. Because I personally, believe in ghosts, at least that’s the only one I believe in 100% to say the least.

  8. Well, I’m obviously not as knowledgeable on the “scuba diving” topic as QuickBeam is, so I quite enjoyed it. Looking past all of the scientific errors, it was not bad. Drowning is one of my worst fears so it was certainly creepy for me! The idea of knowing you’re going to die but can’t do anything about it is very scary. Especially since there was essentially a countdown to his death.
    I usually try to avoid writing about anything that I’m not an “expert” on. I hate doing research before I write but if you aren’t knowledgeable on the subject, doing your research is really imperative. Or, better yet, just avoid subjects that you don’t know much about.
    Anyway, your writing style and mechanics are all fine. It was an effortless read but, of course, it could’ve been better. Keep writing! :) 8/10

  9. That was pretty solid! The picture you paint is fantastic. I could really see the events unfolding in my mind. The idea of doing a ghost hunt on a sunken ship was pretty unique as well. And I have to admit, I didn’t see that twist coming at all. I’d even started to think there would be a happy ending (which I don’t think I’ve ever seen on this site). I’d love to read more of your work!

  10. Deadlynightshade

    Great story however if it were me id take my chances and swim to the surface lol next time maybe look for facts about what ya gonna put into your story. Bc while it is true you have to let ya body get used to the pressure, it wouldn’t rip your lungs and insides to shreds. But since your grammar was Damn near PERFECT 10/10

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