The Last Switch by Colleen M. Farrelly


The bodies were piling up faster than the precinct could reorder the police tape. They were young and female. Other than that, they were all different—affluent and poor, portly and slender, blonde and brunette and recently-dyed blue…

red hair

across her throat—

surgical cuts

News vans swarmed the sanguine scenes like flies on a carcass, each one-upping each other on sensationalized headlines circling from Sunrise to Sarasota. No motives. No suspects. No more after-school activities.

Detective Shlomo arrived late to the scene, stuck in Turnpike traffic and a detoured detour involving an overturned tractor-trailer. The recently-deceased was the Darling Darla, a frequent-flier of the juvenile detention center. Something didn’t add up, and it wasn’t the department budget.

Darla smelled, and it wasn’t booze or sex sticking to her pencil skirt. It was dirt. Not just any dirt—Bob’s Botanical Blend. He’d know it anywhere, he reckoned, after an hour of assisting at the tractor-trailer crash on his way to Darla. In fact, Bob’s number lay limned across his notebook’s last page, along with the business address of Bob and his heavyset hauler, Smalls.

rain drops

smearing dirt—

sweat on pen marks

Detective Shlomo poured a stiff glass of milk and poured over the crime scene photos flooding the fourth floor of the precinct. Just as he suspected—freshly-planted landscaping, tractor-trailer tracks, even two scenes with a Bob’s Botanical Blend trailer parked in the background. It was the break he’d been begging for to blow open the case.

The rest went beautifully. Bob and Smalls were arrested at work within hours of the warrant. Bob broke down and blubbered about discovering Smalls with blood on his uniform, how Smalls liked the pretty girls, how he’d promised his cousin’s late wife that he’d look after Smalls–like he would a son, he swore… He should have reported it, locked Smalls in a room, fired him—something, anything.


on the page—

forced confessions

Smalls smiled and nodded next door, singing like a canary. After the singing stopped, he talked about going to see the pretty girls. He rocked back and forth and asked for Bob or his blankie. He ID’d all 20 girls by name and wanted to see Suzie next. “Suzie was bad and needed a time out.”

Bob got ten years as an accomplice after the fact. The jury took ten minutes to convict, and Smalls was sentenced to death before his public defender sobered up from the last bender.

the last


a golem in the chair


Colleen M. Farrelly is a freelance haibun/haiku writer living in Miami, FL, whose haibun have recently appeared in Haibun Today, Frogpond, Night to Dawn, Scifaikuest, cattails, Under the Basho, Leading Edge, the other bunny, #Femku, Failed Haiku, and Bleached Butterfly, among many others. She loves horror and sci-fi poetry and is eager to build up a new genre of horror haibun!

By day, Farrelly is a data scientist working on quantum machine learning and educational analytics; she is currently working on an analytics popular science book through No Starch Press (slated for early 2020 release). She hopes the visual approach will appeal to folks who are scared of equations and numbers.