“Oh, damn!” The ghost said, contemplating the wheezing, struggling man on the floor. “Sorry! Sorry!” He exerted himself to become more tangible in order to help the portly man back to his feet.
Red in the face, the man glared at the apologetic spectre.
“Just what do you think you were about?” he demanded.
The ghost would have blushed had he been able. “Sorry! It’s just that so few of the living come by anymore and there are quite a few of us spirits in this place and so we’ve become rather competitive, you see, and -”
The man seemed to puff up even more, his red face shading more into purple. “D’you mean to say that you’re contesting one another to scare the daylights out of unsuspecting people?” He shook a finger violently at the ghost, who glided back a step or two in alarm. “Don’t you realise such things could get out of hand? You could give someone a serious turn and then where you would be? Spectres like you are the reason honest house agents like myself have a difficulty in finding owners for these ridiculous relics and more than one ghost has gone wanting for a place to haunt when their castle falls down about their heads for lack of proper maintenance!”
“Sorry! Sorry!” the ghost said again. “Terribly, awfully, sorry. Really. Wasn’t thinking, is all.” He floated closer and brushed at the man’s suit. “All over now, though, right? No harm done, eh?”
“No harm done? No harm done?!” The finger came out again to stab at the air, then suddenly, the man’s eyes rolled back in his head and he fell bonelessly to the floorboards.
The ghost, startled, crept closer. “Excuse me? Are you alright?” He reached out a transparent hand and pushed at the man’s chest. The man’s eyes flew open, he took a great, gasping breath, and then his eyes snapped shut and the breath blew out of him in a gust. A moment later, a portly spirit emerged from the fleshly chrysalis, finger still raised to berate.
“Oh, damn!” the ghost said.