anagram of the kaleds

Now, I don’t like to complain.

I’m not one of life’s complainers, me. Glass half full, that’s what I am. And I know there’s a war on, and we’ve all got to do our bit. And I never liked my legs anyway, so I don’t really miss them.

But thing is, with his nibs, the Great Scientist, bloody Davro over there, it’s all rhetoric, innit? It’s all “The Kaleds shall prevail!” and “The Travel Machines shall bring us victory!” and “The power of static electricity shall crush the Thal horde!” All mouth and trousers, that’s his problem. Leather ones, the ponce.

See, it’s not him what’s got to prevail, is it? Not him what’s got to sit in a jar, waiting for one of his bloody Travel Machines to be ready, to rattle around threateningly in. Nah. Course not. That’d be muggins here.  Wouldn’t be so bad if he could think up a decent bloody name for me.


'Mornin’, Kaled Daev. Nice weather for clams.'

It’s Normon. The lab technician. Every morning, like clockwork, he comes in here and says that.

 At least he remembers my name, I s’pose. Not many do. That nasty Mr Nyder, he never does. Just comes here for a bit of a nose around, checks up on what Davro is doing. Sticks a spatula in my jar and gives me a bit of a stir.

Sodding liberty!

Course, I can’t answer Normon, tell him where to stick his clams. I haven’t got a voice box any more. No way of making a noise. Not got much of anything left, in fact, since the accident. No legs, no real body. Just a sort of squelchy torso, a few tentacles and one remaining eye.

I suppose I could blink something rude at him.

But it’s not Normon’s fault. He’s just obeying orders, isn’t he? Just doing what Davro tells him to.

Bloody Davro! 

'Look over there, Kaled Daev,' says Normon. He nods at the far corner of the lab, where I can just make out – through the grimy distortion of my jar – a waist-high... thing. It’s black and gleaming, sort-of circular like a pedestal. And it’s covered in golden… lumps. It’s beautiful. A bit bloody menacing, but beautiful. What is it, I want to ask? But of course, I can’t.

'I ’spect you want to know what it is,' says Normon.

Ooh, get him. Sharp as a varga.

'It’s your new legs,' he goes on.

New legs? Is he having a laugh?

'Honest,' he says. 'It’s the next bit of the Mark 3 Travel Machine. Davro’s just finished it.' Normon goes over to the thing, leans into it and flicks a switch. It starts to hover, a finger’s width off the ground. 'It’s got the lot, this,' Normon carries on. 'New alloy armour, life support system, a little bell to let people know you’re coming. And it hovers. Never be a problem going up stairs with this. And the lumps round the side...' – he indicates a lump – '...are bombs! The Thals won’t know what’s hit ’em!'

Davro saunters in, leather trousers squeaking. Bloody Davro! 'That will be all, Kaled Normon,' he says, and indicates the technician should leave by flicking his fingers at the door. Very rude! Normon tugs his forelock and backs out of the room. Davro just pokes around the inside of the Mark 3 Travel Machine’s "legs" and pretends to ignore him.

Once Normon’s gone, Davro is immediately up and over to my jar. He bends down to peer in at me, and strokes the glass with his ’orrible brown fingers. Ugh!

'At last, my beautiful,' he says to me. Bloody weirdo. 'At last, my lovely. Tell me, what is your mood? Your desire? What do you feel?'

Pissed off, mate, that’s what. Me, no legs. You, leather trousers. Rub it in, why not? How d’you think I feel?
He strokes my jar again, the creep. 'What are your thoughts, my creation?'
You really don’t want to know, sunshine.

'Do you know, I wonder?' he continues, a bit of spit appearing at the corner of his mouth. 'Do you have the slightest inkling that you are the first of a whole... new... species?'

Who, me? Kaled Daev?! I was a lollipop man! Motorbike comes off a roundabout at seventy in my direction, next thing I know, I’m jelly in a jar. Call that evolving into a new species? ’Cos I don’t!

'A whole new species!' he repeats. He’s let go of my jar now, and he’s standing up again. He’s got that look back in his eyes, the slightly loopy one. And he’s ignoring me, just staring up at the ceiling and punching the air with a funny, slightly suspicious salute.

'The saviours of the Kaled race!' he cries, spittle spattering the side of my jar. Very hygienic! 'The inheritors of Skaro! The scourge of the Thal brutes!'

He stops. Leans down to me again, does a bit more stroking. 'And you, Kaled Daev,' he whispers, 'through my ministrations and mutations, and with the Mark 3 Travel Machine to hold you... you shall be the first! The very first! The first...' And he pauses. Puts his finger on his chin. Muses a bit. '...of the Kleads!'

Another pause. And then...

'Kleads?' Davro spits. 'KLEADS?! What kind of a name is that?!' And he kicks the lab bench so hard my jar wobbles.

Then he goes a bit pale, and keels over.


It’s my birthday. Or it would be, if I was still a man.

Normon’s remembered. Good old Normon. He’s brought me a paper hat, stuck it on top of my jar. 'There you go, Kaled Daev,' he says. 'Happy birthday, mate.'

Thanks Normon mate, I think at him.

'You’ll never guess what’s happened,' he goes on. 'Old Davro, he’s hurt his leg. Says it got bitten by a varga plant, but I think he just kicked something. It’s swollen up good and proper!'

Normon wanders over to the far bench, picks something up from it, wanders back. No urgency about Normon: s’one of the best things about him. 'Here you go,' he says. 'Got a present for you.'

He places the thing beside me. It’s a small, grey box – I think. Not easy to tell through the glass of my jar. Hm... 

'It’s a vocoder,' says Normon. 'Part of the Mark 3 Travel Machine, but I suppose you can have it early. You’re going to get a voice back.' He presses a switch on the side of the box, and immediately there’s a sort of humming in my head. Different notes, one after the other, like it’s trying to find the right one.

A voice? After so long?! I’ll be able to speak again? Well...
'...bugger me! '

Great. First thing I’ve said in three years, and it’s a sodding sweary.

And what’s with that voice? Sounds like nails on a blackboard. That’s the thing about Davro – he can make a box the size of your average kneecap get inside your head and speak your unthought words for you like it’s magic. Something useful, though, like stopping it sounding like laryngitis? Not a chance in hell.

'Bloody Davro!'

Normon sniggers. 'Hallo Kaled Daev,' he smirks. 'You want to watch your language – the Great Scientist’ll switch you off again if you’re not careful.' He smiles. 'Welcome back,' he says.

Davro comes in. Less sauntering this time, more hobbling: he’s got a walking stick, and one of his legs – the one he kicked my table with, I think – has swollen to the size of a reasonable shrub. Still in leather trousers, though.

'Kaled Normon,' he growls. 'Report on the status of the experiment.'

Normon stands up straight, and tries to do that slightly suspicious salute what I saw Davro do a couple of days previously. He hits himself in the side of the head.
'Yes sir!' he shouts. 'Experiment proceeding as expected, sir! No unforeseen reactions to the growth embrocation, sir! Mutation rate at 105% prediction, sir!'

'Good, good,' says Davro. He spots the vocoder beside my jar and hobbles over to it. Peers at it. 'Normon?' he asks slowly. 'What is this?'

'It’s... it’s...' Normon stutters. He’s scared.

'I can see what it is,' snaps Davro. 'It’s the Mark 3 Travel Machine vocoder unit. What is it doing here?'

'It is allowing me to speak!' I say in Normon’s defence. 'It gives me voice!' I thought Normon’d be pleased, but he just seems to quake even more. And Davro looks like he’s about to explode, starts to shake a bit. Turns around and raises his stick at the cowering Normon like he wants to hit him. Then that little bit of spit shows up at the corner of his mouth again.

But all of a sudden he smiles. Lowers the stick back to the floor.

'So,' he says. 'My creation... speaks. Excellent. Excellent. Listen, Kaled Normon. Listen well, to the words of this being. These are the first words spoken by a whole... new... species. The first words spoken by the progenitor...' – and he pulls himself up to his full height, which is about Normon’s shoulder, and raises his arm in salute again – '...of the Ek-Lads!'

Ek-Lads?! I look out of my murky glass at Davro. Across at Normon, who looks a bit perplexed. Back at Davro again.

Davro lowers his arm. Sighs.

'Too cheesy?' he asks.


'Where’s my leg-thing gone?' I ask Normon, a couple of days later. 'That pedestal hovery thing? Used to be over in the corner?'

Normon looks a bit embarrassed. 'It’s Davro,' he says. 'He... um...'

'What?' I demand.

'That infection, it spread to his other leg,' says Normon. 'Swelled up too, bigger than the first. Honestly, he looked like he was wearing trees.'

'He should disinfect!' I suggest, far more stroppy than I mean to be, no idea why. 'Disinfect! Disinfect! Disinfect!'

'Yeah, that’s what I thought,' says Normon. 'Be right as rain in a couple of days. But you know the Great Scientist, how he feels about imperfection...'

'DISIN... NO!' I say. 'He didn’t!'

Normon looks uncomfortable. 'He did,' he says. 'Amputation. Both legs, just below the groin. And of course, then he needed new legs. So... um...'

'He’s nicked my bloody legs! Hasn’t he?! My bloody legs!'

'It’s not all that bad,' Normon consoles me. 'There’s still a set of Mark 2 Travel Machine legs in the storeroom. Lick o’ paint, they’ll be lovely.'

I sigh. As much as a lump of jelly in a jar can sigh, anyway. 'Do they... hover?'

'Not as such,' says Normon. 'They more sort-of... trundle.'

'Alloy armour? Bombs?'

'Plywood. And custard.'


'The lumps have got custard in ’em.'

'It’s usually,' I say sarcastically, 'the other way around.'

'Look, it was before the war,' Normon says, reddening. 'They wanted something that could wait tables.' He pauses. 'All right, he was going through a custard phase. Um... it’s still got the little bell...'


Normon’s painted my "legs".

My Mark 2 legs. Round. Pedestal-like. And...


So, the good news is, my leg unit has still got lumps. Bad news... well, they’re yellow. Looks like they’re full of custard. Because...


'I know,' says Normon. 'I tried. But it’s hard to find somewhere to drain custard sneakily when there’s a war on. Everyone keeps looking at their ration books.'

Yeah, well, I take his point. At a time like this, you don’t want to waste custard.

'Look,' says Normon, 'it’s not all bad. I’ll paint ’em black for you. And the Mark 3 Travel Machine Containment Unit – you know, the top bit, the bit you sit in – still works. It’s got air-conditioning. And Space Invaders.'

I look at it. It’s got a dome. And vents. Gleaming black, like my original legs. But it looks a teency bit bigger than my new ones, at the base.

'Are you sure it’ll fit?' I ask.

'Absolutely!' says Normon. 'If I reverse the polarity of, um... the Velcro.'

'VELCRO?!' I shout. And then I consider what he’s said. You know, if you think it through... nope, bollocks, it still doesn’t make sense! 'What do you mean, Velcro!?'