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ow, 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.

ornin’, 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!

ook 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.

t’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...

artwork by ANDY LAMBERT
used with permission
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