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The Ghost Who Played Trains With Us

I was brought up with the strongest Christian beliefs so, no, I don’t believe in ghosts. But I’ve had some strange experiences that have no real logical explanation. Just before our son turned two, we were on holiday in India, spending a week in a huge, rambling house – and I mean huge. On our first night there, I was told that the place was haunted – but I was reassured that the “presence” was not malevolent in any way.

Did I see a ghost while I was there? No. I didn’t actually SEE this ghost. But try and explain this to me …

My son, a big fan of Thomas the Tank Engine, had brought some of the toy engines with him, all the way from Melbourne. One afternoon, I was with him in the huge room that had been set aside as his play room. There were only three people in the house – my daughter, my son and me. The servants had left the house after serving lunch and clearing the dining room. No one else in the house, right? No one.

Just the three of us, and we were all in the same room. My son was playing with Trevor, a little traction engine. He pushed it a long way across the smooth, cool marble floor and I watched it very closely. If one of the engines had gone missing, there was no chance of replacing it until we got home to Melbourne. The engine went all the way to the door, stopping right under the curtain that divided the room and the long corridor. He played for several more minutes and then asked me to retrieve Trevor.

I was talking to him while I walked over. Bent down. I was at the curtain. I knew exactly where Trevor was. Put my hand down. No Trevor. Felt around. No Trevor. Lifted the curtain. No sign of Trevor. The traction engine was nowhere to be seen. Not in the corridor. Not under the curtain. Not in the play room.

No one had walked into the house. No one had walked out of the play room. No one had walked into the play room.

You try breaking the news to a not-yet-two-year-old that one of his favourite engines is missing. I did it in a kind, caring manner. He just smiled, as if he knew exactly where it was. He walked out of the play room, down the corridor and asked me to open the heavy door to another bedroom. I did so, because the door was far too heavy for him to open.

He walked straight into the room without hesitation. Went to the double bed. And put out his little hand to retrieve Trevor from on top of the bed.

Remember, there was no one else in the house. You try explaining that to me …

David McMahon’s first novel, Vegemite Vindaloo, was published by Penguin in 2006. His second novel, Muskoka Maharani, is due out shortly.

A pictorial version of this article was first published on my blog on
28 August 2007, titled Ghost Of A Chance

Currently unavailable for purchase

The Ghost Who Played Trains With Us by 

This spirit must have been a genuine “bogey” man.

Walkley Award-nominated journalist, novelist and wedding photographer at

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  • ellismorleyphto
    ellismorleyphtoabout 5 years ago

    Children can see a lot more things that adults have forgotten thanks to growing up and being told/conditioned that things are make believe :-)
    Never underestimate the powers of the innocent :-D

    Things used to happen in one flat where I would be out all day, I lived alone, came home and things had… changed. Moved, been unplugged with something else plugged in in its place.

    It’s up to you what you want to call it, how you want to explain it, but it was something that happened so you can either choose to accept it or never speak of it again.

    Your son smiled and was not scared which is a positive thing :-)

  • What an interesting comment. I’d love to see you post a written piece on RB, narrating your experiences. And you’re right – sometimes there is just no explanation, is there? My son had absolutely no fear. It was as if it were a game for him!

    – David McMahon

  • Marjorie Wallace
    Marjorie Wallaceabout 5 years ago

    Wow! What a fascinating story. I think I would be wondering who had occupied that particular bedroon in years past, for they certainly liked Trevor enough to claim it for their own. Great story!

  • Thank you, Marjorie. I was the only member of the family who had been told that the place was haunted – and we witnessed some amazing things in the week we were there. Glad you liked this tale.

    – David McMahon

  • Lynn  Abbott
    Lynn Abbottabout 5 years ago

    Oh, how delightful to find your written piece here!! I wondered how this worked! And this is a “terrific” tale!!! You have such an easy, conversational style, David…I love it! Fascinating events, as well…And I DO believe there was something spiritual at work…Extremely fun to read a memory of yours…

  • Thank you, Janine – we were actually talking about this story at home just the other day, which reminded me to publish it on RB. So glad you liked the narrative.

    – David McMahon

  • Shulie1
    Shulie1about 5 years ago

    I lived in an old house in Ontario that was haunted. One day I was home alone and heard someone running down the upstairs hallway and jump on the bed – I thought it was the dog and yelled at him to get off the bed. I then happened to look outside and the dog was sitting on the lawn. A little girl called Winetta died in the house around 1900 and she was a presence in the house quite often

  • Jeepers, Shulie – I’ve got goosebumps just reading that. Thanks for sharing that experience. How did you find out about the little girl and her name? I’m really curious…..

    – David McMahon

  • Lesliebc
    Lesliebcalmost 5 years ago

    Makes me think of that movie “The Others.” Strange that I happen to pop over today as I just posted my ABC Wednesday P is for Paradise and relate my three vivid reasons for believing in an afterlife. You may want to check it out. Hope you’re all well.

  • Manila
    Manilaalmost 5 years ago

    if you were brought up with christian beliefs,you dont believe in the holy ghost then.

  • Shiva77
    Shiva77over 4 years ago

    this is a great story, thought provoking and held my interest all the way through!

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