Yellow Mama Archives II

Phil Temples

Acuff, Gale
Ahern, Edward
Allen, R. A.
Alleyne, Chris
Andes, Tom
Arnold, Sandra
Aronoff, Mikki
Ayers, Tony
Baber, Bill
Baird, Meg
Baker, J. D.
Balaz, Joe
Barker, Adelaide
Barker, Tom
Barnett, Brian
Barry, Tina
Bartlett, Daniel C.
Bayly, Karen
Beckman, Paul
Bellani, Arnaav
Berriozabal, Luis Cuauhtemoc
Beveridge, Robert
Blakey, James
Burke, Wayne F.
Burnwell, Otto
Campbell, J. J.
Cancel, Charlie
Capshaw, Ron
Carr, Steve
Carrabis, Joseph
Centorbi, David Calogero
Christensen, Jan
Clifton, Gary
Cody, Bethany
Costello, Bruce
Coverly, Harris
Crist, Kenneth James
Cumming, Scott
Davie, Andrew
Davis, Michael D.
Degani, Gay
De Neve, M. A.
Dillon, John J.
Dominguez, Diana
Dorman, Roy
Doughty, Brandon
Doyle, John
Dunham, T. Fox
Ebel, Pamela
Fagan, Brian Peter
Fillion, Tom
Fortier, M. L.
Fowler, Michael
Garnet, George
Garrett, Jack
Graysol, Jacob
Grech, Amy
Greenberg, KJ Hannah
Grey, John
Hagerty, David
Hardin, Scott
Held, Shari
Hicks, Darryl
Hivner, Christopher
Hoerner, Keith
Hohmann, Kurt
Holt, M. J.
Holtzman, Bernice
Hopson, Kevin
Hubbs, Damon
Irwin, Daniel S.
Jabaut, Mark
Jermin, Wayne
Jeschonek, Robert
Johns. Roger
Kanner, Mike
Karl, Frank S.
Kempe, Lucinda
Kennedy, Cecilia
Keshigian, Michael
Kitcher, William
Kompany, James
Koperwas, Tom
Larsen, Ted R.
Le Due, Richard
Leotta, Joan
Lester, Louella
Lubaczewski, Paul
Lucas, Gregory E.
Luer, Ken
Lukas, Anthony
Lyon, Hillary
Mannone, John C.
Martinez, Richard
McConnell, Logan
McQuiston, Rick
Middleton, Bradford
Milam, Chris
Mladinic, Peter
Mobili, Juan
Mullins, Ian
Myers, Jen
Nielsen, Ayaz Daryl
Nielsen, Judith
Onken, Bernard
Owen, Deidre J.
Park, Jon
Parker, Becky
Pettus, Robert
Plath, Rob
Prusky, Steve
Radcliffe, Paul
Reddick, Niles M.
Reutter, G. Emil
Robson, Merrilee
Rollins, Janna
Rose, Brad
Rosmus, Cindy
Ross, Gary Earl
Rowland, C. A.
Saier, Monique
Sarkar, Partha
Scharhag, Lauren
Schauber, Karen
Schildgen, Bob
Schmitt, Di
Sesling, Zvi E.
Short, John
Slota, Richelle Lee
Smith, Elena E.
Snethen, Daniel G.
Steven, Michael
Stoler, Cathi
Stoll, Don
Surkiewicz, Joe
Swartz, Justin
Taylor, J. M.
Temples. Phillip
Traverso Jr., Dionisio "Don"
Turner, Lamont A.
Tustin, John
Tyrer, DJ
Varghese, Davis
Verlaine, Rp
Viola, Saira
Waldman, Dr. Mel
Weibezahl, Robert
Weil, Lester L.
White, Robb
Wilhide, Zachary
Williams, E. E.
Williams, K. A.
Wilsky, Jim
Wiseman-Rose, Sophia
Woods, Jonathan
Young, Mark
Zackel, Fred
Zelvin, Elizabeth
Zeigler, Martin
Zimmerman, Thomas
Zumpe, Lee Clark


by Phil Temples



Randy Pratt announced his presence before entering. Most of the residents of the Centerwood Assisted Living and Nursery Facility were gathered in the common room for arts and crafts. The room was unoccupied, or so he thought. But then, he saw Billie Madison curled up in a corner of the room reading the latest Super Dynamo vs. Dark Phantasmo e-comic that Billie had received the day before.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Billie. I didn’t know anyone was in here. I can come back later, if you’d like.”

“Naw, that’s okay, Randy,” replied the five-year-old rebounder. I’m just killing time until Johnny and Lizzy get back from crafts.  You go ahead and do all that grownup stuff that needs doing.”

“Okay, kiddo.” Randy walked over and stripped the bunk beds of their sheets and tossed them in the portable incinerator on his cart. They disappeared in a whoosh! Then he pushed a button and four sets of sheets and pillows popped out. The newer carts were equipped with robotic arms that installed the linen. But Randy was fine with the older model. He enjoyed doing it by hand.

“How’s Lizzy doing, by the way? She still hanging in there?”

Billie looked sad. “Not so good, I’m afraid. She’s three now, and she’s beginning to lose a lot of her vocabulary. Heck, so am I. Image that! Three doctorate degrees under my belt, and I’m only interested in comic books now.” Billie paused to put down his tablet. “I guess it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be slappin’ diapers on me.”

Randy chuckled. “Gawd, I hope not. I don’t want to get anywhere near your little pecker. Besides, you still got a few good years left in you.”

Around 2047 the world’s elderly population started to experience sudden age reversal. People around sixty-five began appearing younger. Despite intense investigations by the world's leading medical schools as to why seniors no longer assumed the typical signs of decline but instead grew youthful over a relatively short span of time, no definitive cause had ever been found. Some scientists speculated that the answer to this vexing question might exist in the reactivation of telomerase, the enzyme that lengthens telomeres––prompting gene reproduction. While this dramatic change in the human condition pleased most elders, it upset their descendants, who witnessed their parents—and grandparents—“rebounding” past them in chronological age and maturity.

“Randy, can I ask you a question?”


“Are you still linear?”

“Yep. Guilty as charged. Is it that obvious?”

“Well, I figured as much. If you were on the rebound, you wouldn’t be taking care of little kids. You’d be out doing fun stuff instead. I tell ya’, enjoy it while you can. It sucks to get young.”

“I’ll keep that in mind, Billie. I surely will. You take care. Be nice to the others, and share your toys. I’ll be back the day after tomorrow.”

Randy finished his duties on the second floor, and headed for the infant’s ward on level eight. He was responding to the dispensary, which had messaged him saying it needed more diapers.

As Randy passed by one of the doors, the sensor detected his proximity and flashed on the screen the names of the room occupants. One name caught his attention immediately:


Could it be…?

Randy had a stepfather—a rebounder—who would be around one or two years of age now. The two had been estranged for decades. Randy touched the sensor and then pressed query. Up flashed more vital statistics about Philip Pratt.

Is it really you, you son of a bitch?

Philip had been an evil stepfather. He was fifty-six years Randy’s senior. When Randy was a child, Philip delighted in playing cruel pranks on him. Like the time he threw rocks at Mrs. Madison’s tabby cat, and then he told her that Randy was the culprit. Randy’s mother punished him for weeks by making him scrub the floors, clean the dishes, and perform other intensive labor meant for the cleanbots. Philip even got Randy arrested once when he bullied his stepson into entering a bodega to say, “This is a stick up. Give me your money.”

Above all, Philip was a sadistic sociopath who delighted in smacking the youngster around simply for the pleasure of seeing him suffer. It wasn’t until the elder Philip divorced Randy’s mother and moved out of state that Randy escaped his cruel treatment. Randy severed all contact with Philip, and they lived their separate lives. Once or twice over the years, Philip had tried reaching out to Randy, but Randy never reciprocated. The two hadn’t spoken since.

Randy walked into the room. There was no need to knock. The occupants were infants, all assigned to cradles. Randy spied the cradle occupied by his stepfather. He bent over and put his face inches from the baby’s.

“It’s been a long time, hasn’t it, Philip? Do you know who I am?”

The baby had been staring off into space. But when Randy bent over the cradle, Philip stared up at him. The infant was transfixed.

“Yes, it’s me. Randy. You remember, right? You remember how you used to knock me down, and kick me? You broke my ribs, once. Then you told mom that I had fallen down the basement stairs. You threatened to kill mom if I told her the truth. Remember?”

The baby Philip continued to stare at the figure above him. The words Philip heard meant almost nothing to the nearly preverbal infant. Yet, they stirred vague recollections. Feelings. Feelings of hunger. Or concern. No, perhaps… delight?

 “Do you remember when you trapped me in the bathroom and pulled down my pants? Do you remember how you raped me? I’m sure you do. That’s something even a slobbering infant wouldn’t forget, right? I know you remember! I can see it in your eyes.”

Indeed, Philip’s eyes betrayed him. The scene was registering in the infant’s mind. It was ancient and powerful and …

Something dark moved across Philip’s face. Suddenly he was aware of pressure against his throat. Philip’s instincts told him to both cry out and suck in air at the same time. Neither was possible, however, as the grown man’s hand seized the infant’s throat in a viselike grip. Philip struggled, to no avail.

Randy squeezed more tightly. Seconds later, Philip’s vision grew blurry. Soon he stopped struggling and surrendered to the impending darkness.  Randy, knowing the sophisticated electronics in the building would soon identify him as the assailant, abandoned his cart, headed down the elevator, and walked calmly out the building into the bright morning sun.

Justice had been meted out by Randy’s hands in a most satisfying fashion. It mattered little to Randy what happened to him now.

Food Chain


by Phil Temples



Jimmy Dexter, age 14, of Milford, Delaware, was quite probably the first person to discover it. A few days later, grownups also began to take notice. Smart people, mostly scientists. People from all over the planet.

The microscope was his pride and joy. He had saved up almost $200 from his paper route to buy it. Jimmy placed the order online, and after nearly a week of waiting, the UPS man delivered the package to Jimmy’s mother while Jimmy was at school. When he got home, Jimmy rushed into the kitchen, and without even saying, "Hi mom," he instead asked, "Did a package—"

His mother grinned and nodded, stopping him in mid-sentence, then walked over to the counter and handed Jimmy the box. Jimmy eagerly tore into it and carefully removed the contents, inspecting it with admiration. He ran over to the kitchen cabinet and grabbed a glass container.

"Where do you think you’re going with one of my canning jars?"

Jimmy was half way out the back door before his mom finished with her question. He kept running for almost a quarter of a mile until he reached Fishers Pond. He assumed that a small sample should contain millions of single and multi-celled organisms for him to peruse with his new microscope.

It was a humid, sunny afternoon in late spring. The pond was thick with green slime. Dragonflies and other bugs were buzzing to and fro, just above the surface. Jimmy bent down at the water’s edge, unscrewed the lid, and carefully dipped the jar into the water, capturing some of the algae along with the liquid. After screwing the lid on tightly, Jimmy darted back home. Up in his bedroom, he quickly collected a small sample and placed the pond water onto a viewing slide.

To say that Jimmy was disappointed would have been an understatement. In fact, his initial reaction was one of disbelief. There was no life at all visible in the sample! He compared it with tap water from the bathroom faucet. There was no discernable difference between the two samples. Jimmy discarded the slide and prepared another. Again, he observed the same result. And again, on the third and the fourth ...

What am I doing wrong? Jeez, Louise! This microscope is broken!

Although something was obviously botched, Jimmy carefully recorded the results of his first-ever experiment in the laboratory notebook he had purchased just last week at the bookstore. Feeling defeated, Jimmy went downstairs and washed up for dinner.

The following day, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Falmouth, Massachusetts, were making similar observations to Jimmy’s. Interestingly, they, too, arrived at the same initial conclusion as Jimmy did. Something must be broken with the equipment. Except, the scientists had many microscopes as well as other sophisticated pieces of equipment with which to confirm the initial readings. After repeated tests, there was no doubt in their minds: something was causing the disappearance of simple life forms in their laboratories—indeed, across the planet.


The following day, the President of the United States and other key cabinet members received a top-secret briefing about the crisis from the Chairman of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Dr. Patrick Whiting.

"Mr. President, if this situation persists—and there’s no reason to believe it will not—we’re facing a worldwide catastrophe—essentially, a ‘Doomsday scenario.’" 

"But it’s only the tiny, single-celled organisms that are affected, right? I mean—that’s not as bad as an entire species—like birds or fish—going extinct." 

A moment passed. The President turned and faced his chief science advisor. In a more subdued, and far less confident voice, he asked,

"Is it?"

"I’m afraid it’s infinitely worse," replied Whiting. "Not even taking into account the destruction of crops and livestock, you see, sir, the human colon harbors one of the densest microbial communities found on Earth. For every human cell in your body, there are roughly ten single-celled microbes. Without those microbes in our gut, we’ll soon be unable to digest food. Already we’re seeing evidence of die-off of these microbes in test subjects all over the world."

Whiting started to say more, and then he paused.

"What is it, Pat? There’s no need to hold back on anything now. I don’t suppose anything you have to say could make matters worse."

"Well, it’s just that it’s very mysterious. It may not help us solve this dilemma, but the bacteria and other one-celled organisms don't actually die. Instead, they’re disappearing right before our eyes."

"Huh," said the president. There was no emotion in his voice—only a simple acknowledgment of a scientific mystery. Of course, the scientists who would collect data and conduct research until the very end of mankind’s existence were speculating over this critical piece of data, wondering if it held any answers to the impending apocalypse. But they were quickly running out of time.

"How long? How long until people start to die?"

"Rough estimates are seven to ten days. People will begin to feel the effects within the next 24 hours."

The President sank into his chair. He let out a long sigh.

"Bob, get the top religious leaders in here for a meeting within the hour. It’s time to draft a message for the nation. Let’s hope that the people of this great land will have the courage to die with dignity and not riot in the streets and kill one another. So help me God, I’ll not have that on my watch."

Within days, more complex life forms began to disappear. Insects, birds, fish, and snakes were the first to blink out of existence. There was no disputing it. Eyewitness accounts numbered in the millions. One second, they were there. The next, they were PHOOF! Gone. Cults preached of the Rapture, and new-age environmentalists claimed that Gaia had come to reclaim her planet. 

Soon, mammals like dogs, cats, cows, horses, and other farm animals were also disappearing. The swine were the next to go. Later, apes began to go missing from laboratories and zoos.


The small waves lapped gently against a large female humpback whale. She was a part of a pod of fifteen humpbacks who were situated off the coast of Hawaii. A stream of air and mist rose from her twin blowholes. She dove, and soon rejoined the cacophony of moans, howls, cries, and other noises of the conversation in progress.

The burning question on the minds of all the pod members that day was: "Where have all the krill, plankton, and fish gone?" Then one of their pod posed the seemingly insignificant question:

"Where are the humans?"

Phil Temples resides in Watertown, Massachusetts. He's had five mystery-thriller novels, a novella, and two story anthologies published, in addition to over 180 short stories online in: The London Independent Story Prize; Wilderness House Literary Review; Boston Literary Magazine; and Ariel Chart; to name but a few. Phil is a member of New England Science Fiction Association, the Mystery Writers of America, and the Bagel Bards. You can learn more about him at

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