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  • Writer's pictureJavier Berrellez

Crossing Over: The Journey of a Female Assassin's Spirit

Yesenia’s face is weather-beaten. The ravaging summer heat and wind chew at every bit of exposed skin. She pushes up her jacket’s collar, covering her neck, and pulls down hard on her beanie - covering her ears and forehead.  Her soft leather gloves cover her sweaty hands; her dark trousers and mid-calf hiking boots keep her skin from charring her fair skin.


The days were long, and the nights provided a respite from the beating sun. This is the last night of her reconnaissance mission.  She’s been hiding, observing, learning patterns, and recording every face that moves in and out of the junkyard being used as an armory for a gun and drug-running group in the Arizona desert.


When the moon finally punches through the sky, Yesenia stands and stretches her aching back and legs. She moves quickly - using the shadows to advance to the main building. The man she is looking for is at a table eating a freshly cut watermelon, sprinkled with lemon and salt. Her mouth waters as she pulls her knife out of her sheath and stares at the man's exposed neck. At the base of the man's neck is a tattoo of an owl stretching behind his right ear and disappearing into his hairline. Despite the tattoo, the man's features allow him to blend into a crowd. The man stands an average of five feet, nine inches tall; his hair is dark and peppered lightly with white specs. Alejandro had no discernable features in his average-looking face, besides the light stubble that matches his hair perfectly. The man blends in easily into any crowd and has for years - making him an almost impossible target to find - up until now.


Yesenia stares through a dusty window, waiting for the man she expected to be Alejandro to turn. A whisper flies into a microphone on her lapel when she confirms his identity. She waits for a response from her team. Yesenia’s eyes continue following the man as he paces the spacious warehouse littered with pallets stacked to the roof in what looked to be unorganized clusters that added to the interior’s maze-like effect. When Alejandro disappears behind a random stack of pallets, Yesenia reaches her neck through the window. She’s careful not to make any noise, but her shoulder pushes a clay pot with a small white rose resting below the windowsill - it comes crashing down. A ruckus echoes through the warehouse. Alejandro runs back into view with a gun in hand and sees Yesenia pulling her head back through the window.


The man scrambles out of the warehouse like a lion. Yesenia tries to jump from her perch, but her boots catch a snag on the wall, and she comes crashing down just feet from Alejandro. She instantly springs to her feet with the first weapon she can reach- a six-inch, fixed-blade, black dagger with a curved end. In most instances, Yesenia would top a fight, but this time is different. The black, sleek barrel of a nineteen-eleven, 380 Browning handgun rests an inch from her face.


The man hugs the trigger with his index finger and hastily asks. “Who are you? What do you want?”  The man’s haggard voice resonates in Yesenia’s ears like a poking hot iron. Yesenia doesn’t answer. Her right-hand hangs low, gripping the fixed blade. She knows exactly where to strike, but she waits for orders from her team who are overhearing the conversation and seeing the situation from a drone that quietly hovered above the warehouse. When Alejandro looks down and sees the knife, Yesenia swings her arms up in an arch. Alejandro pulls the trigger.


The flash of the exploding casing recoils the man’s hand. He readies for another shot, but the woman’s hand moves before he pulls the trigger. He was aghast to see the knife coming down on him - the grip of the knife butting across his temple.


Yesenia strikes Alejandro before she crumbles to the ground. The man is felled, and his body lies unconscious next to Yesenia who is on her way out of this world.


Yesenia is unconscious but she can still feel and see everything, especially the sensation that something is being forcefully extracted out of her body. The feeling is odd, almost like two strong magnets being pulled away from each other. 


When Yesenia feels she is drifting up into the air and sees her limp body next to Alejandro’s she knows she is dying or already dead. Without hesitation, she reaches for the closest thing, Alejandro’s body, and feels her drift arrest – she’s like a kite on a string. With whatever strength she has left, she pulls her floating spirit down and enters the man’s unconscious body. The entry was violent, like a collision between two runners crossing a blind corner. Yesenia feels alive, strong, and steady as she sees the other spirit, Alejandro’s, slowly drifting out of its vessel. Yesenia has no idea what’s happening, but she instinctively knows that what she is seeing is the man’s spirit floating away until it metamorphosizes into a light that starts as dull, turns brilliant, and then disappears. 


Yesenia wakes in her new body that doesn’t just feel odd, but wrong. She turns Alejandro’s body on the ground and reaches for her old body.  She grabs the jacket, pulls on the collar, removes the microphone and earpiece from the body, and places them on the new body: Alejandro’s. She hears voices over the radio. “We’re coming in now.  Hold the target.”


Yesenia speaks over the radio. “Delay that action.”  The voice over the radio was not hers, but instead that of Alejandro - her target’s voice.  The radio instantly goes silent - the team waiting in the wing realizes Yesenia has lost her radio and is likely dead.


The mercenaries are on their way to the yard for Alejandro - a two-million-dollar target they’d been seeking for years.  What they don’t know though, nor will they, is that the man they are hunting is now Yesenia.


Yesenia needs a moment to process what’s happening, what she is experiencing, seeing, hearing - everything. She doesn’t have time though.  She knows too well - the mercenaries have no limits. She must act fast. She hastily drags Alejandro’s body off the ground, gets it to its feet, and begins running back to her hiding spot beyond the yard. 


When she gets there, her binoculars are still mounted on a tripod covered with a concealing tarp. She pulls the cover off and looks through the binoculars. She can’t understand how to process seeing her inert body, covered in blood, with a grim expression that’s half buried in the dirt.


Through her earpiece, she hears footsteps over a nearby ridge through a noise trap she buried to alert her of incoming patrols. It’s a gaggle of people moving fast.  She turns her binoculars and sees six heavily armed men cresting the ridge fast.  “Damn it, it’s the boys,” she cries under her breath. She can feel sweat beading over her eyebrows. She reaches up and feels the short, crew-cut hair - it’s different than her long, brown hair that drapes over her eyes and shoulders.  Her senses are different; she doesn’t know how they’re different - they just are. Every emotion registers anew - she’s having a hard time adapting to some of her new form’s feelings.  She pushes them aside and decides to focus on taking action.


“I have your partner, the woman,” Yesenia says over the radio. “She tells me her name is Yesenia. I’m willing to pay - just let me leave with my life.”


The radio cracks open. “Five million,” a voice comes over the radio. Yesenia sees the men stop through her binoculars.


“What about the woman?” Yesenia asks.


The men talk to each other briefly and Francisco, the team leader replies. “Kill her, keep her, we don’t give a fuck.”


Yesenia drops her eyes from her binoculars. She’s at a loss for words, but not surprised.  She’s worked with this team for years - and just like that, she’s disposable. Her mind still spins for what seems like minutes but is just seconds.  “Okay,” she responds calmly. “There’s four and a half million in the warehouse, in a safe, behind the third door to the right,” and she relays the combination to Francisco. She has no idea how she knows all these details, but she does. She knows a lot, everything that’s in the warehouse.  “That’s all the money I have liquid in this region.” The mercenaries agree. In minutes, they’re in and out of the warehouse with large duffle bags filled with small denominations - vanishing over the ridge.  The team didn’t acknowledge Yesenia’s body - they walked by it numerous times. Yesenia still can’t believe what she’s seen.  Men she’s trusted her life with, and she’s saved on many occasions swap her for a payday. 


The days pass and Yesenia mingles with yard workers coming and going, ferrying drugs, money, and guns. During these short, confusing days, Yesenia learns she knows everything about Alejandro: his life, operations, and even his thoughts - past and current. Every hour draws more questions that suck her into a dizzying abyss of despair. Two questions arise above all the rest: Why didn’t she just let go; Is this her hell?


After a few more days, Yesenia notices that Alejandro's workers are acting strange around his presence. They can feel something is wrong, but they can't pinpoint it. She knows what Alejandro would do to quell any disruption in his operations, but she doesn't care. She wants to exit this foul, evil body she feels trapped in.


As she drives to Alejandro's home on her sixth or seventh evening of being stuck in this body, she drives by a spiritual healer's office. Yesenia makes an impulsive decision and stops. She stares at the building with the neon sign of a hand covering the front window. The glass door reads Spiritual Healing in large, psychedelic letters. All the lights inside the business are turned off, but a small sign on the front door reads OPEN. Yesenia turns off her car and hesitates to exit. She knows she doesn't have many options. Before Yesenia decides, a woman exits the establishment. She looks around and walks onto the sidewalk. Yesenia stares at the woman as she walks up to the passenger side door of Alejandro's car, taps the window, and waves at Yesenia to enter the establishment. Yesenia chuckles and thinks to herself that the lady must have a camera and probably does this with many unsure customers. She steps out of Alejandro's car and walks into the peculiar office. A large Namaste sign that stretches from the floor to the ceiling greets Yesenia. It's a cliche sign you'd see at most Yoga studios.


Yesenia turns the corner and sees the woman who tapped the car's window. She's thrown off by the striking beauty of the woman who sits behind a generic office desk. The woman appears Gaelic, is dressed in a long, dark, flowy dress, and has long black hair that falls over her pale, almost translucent skin. The woman's eyes are dark and immersive, and they're accentuated by eyeliner that draws your attention like the stare of a black cat. The woman's facial features are strong; high cheekbones, a slim, short nose; and large, pouty lips that split at the center.


The Gaelic woman stands and extends her hand out to Alejandro and says with a smile.  "Hi, my name is Aisling. "What's your name?"


Yesenia responds with, "Alejandro."


The woman walks out from behind her desk and stands before Alejandro. "Relax and close your eyes," the woman says as she places her hands over Alejandro's head. Aisling moves her hands in opposing circles. She continues her introduction. "My name means dream or vision." Alejandro nods his head. The woman releases a strong sigh - her breath showering Alejandro's face with a minty aroma. "Tell me your real name?" Alejandro opens his eyes and stares at Aisling directly into her dark, almost black eyes.


"It's Yesenia." The woman stops circling her hands over Alejandro's head and stands there stiff as a board. At that moment, an old, weathered man pushes aside a curtain and sees Aisling performing a visioning, an act intended to recognize good and bad spirits.


Gad, a traditional healer from a Navajo tribe in the Southern Arizona desert mountains, walks fast towards the two, sits directly in front of Alejandro, and stares at Aisling - ignoring Alejandro. "What do we have here?"


"A possession," responds Aisling.


The elderly man walks around Alejandro and puts his arms over Aisling as she continues performing her ritual.  "Tell me, how long have you possessed this body?" Yesenia doesn't respond. She wasn't sure if the man was talking to her or Aisling. "I'm talking to you, stranger."


Yesenia straightens in Alejandro's body and responds hastily. "Six or seven days – I’ve lost count."


"Why are you here?"


"I need to get out of this body. I'm not sure why I did what I did, but I need out," Yesenia cries out. "This body feels foul and rotten to the core. I feel like it's infecting me, my spirit somehow." Gad acknowledges Yesenia with a simple yes. Yesenia examines the room. She's surprised by its simplicity. She expected to see crystals, dreamscapes, tarot cards, and other mystic objects riddling the desks and office walls. Instead, it looks like a boring office with signs at the entrance to lure in customers.


Gad returns to the room with a handful of items. He pushes a chair with his bare feet in front of Alejandro, sits, and drops all the items at his feet. Gad retrieves a bushel of dry weeds from the pile at his feet. With his dry, leathery, and withered hands, Gad crushes the weeds until they're the consistency of coffee grinds. The man pulls a small jar from his feet and asks Aisley to add a few tablespoons of water.  After she does, Gad mixes the weed powder into the jar until it becomes a paste. He grabs a handful of the paste and pulls Alejandro's shirt up with his free hand. "I'm going to put this on your chest and continue adding more items." Yesenia nods, unsure of what's happening, but she doesn't object. "As I add more elements to this balm, you'll start to feel drowsy and begin drifting into another level of consciousness where you must find a way out of this body. If you can't do it, you'll never leave this body and will be forever its slave - even after death."


"What should I expect to see?"


"Don't know.  It's different for everyone."


Yesenia nods. "Okay. I'm ready. Let's do this."


Aisling walks between Gad and Yesenia and interrupts the process. "Before we proceed, we must be paid. Five thousand dollars to help you free your soul."


Yesenia doesn't hesitate. "My front pocket. There's a roll of cash.  There's more than you need. Take it all." Aisling reaches into the man's pocket, pulls the money out, and nods to Gad.


"Good luck," the old man says. "Hopefully this is our last meeting." Yesenia lets out a deep breath and tries to prepare for the unknown. Gad begins adding more elements to the concoction and begins chanting loudly. As the man's voice amplifies, so does an all-consuming heat throughout her body. The chanting is thunderous, every word resonating like a drum beat in her ears. The repeating patterns of words and grunts drag her into a melancholic stupor that pulls her into an amber light that violently explodes into an aura of colors. As the chanting grows louder, her mind transcends into something resembling a tunnel with a kaleidoscope of shifting patterns. Her mind or consciousness, she doesn't know which or how to discern, flies uncontrollably through something akin to a tunnel. Suddenly, she's dropped into a red space.


The chanting and the dizzying tunnel instantly vanish. The emptiness of the space she’s in engulfs her senses. Yesenia looks around, but there's nothing to look at. All she can see is a sea of red in all directions: up, down, left, and right. Her mind and senses are flooded with red. A feeling of emptiness and terror runs through her spine; her predicament feels worse than being stuck in a solitary, pitch-dark room. Her senses feel like she's submerged underwater.  Her eyes can barely discern one direction from another. The only thing that interrupts the intoxicating redness consuming everything is the sight of her body: her hands as she extends them before her face; her feet as she places one ahead of the other and walks. Her mind and eyes flex and try to adjust as the floor seems no different than whatever is on top, next, or below her – the place feels maddening.


Attempting to calm her paralyzing thoughts, Yesenia takes a deep breath and instantly notices - there's no air.  Yet, she doesn't struggle for air. She tries again, but nothing draws in with an inhale and nothing escapes her lips as she puts her hands to her mouth. Yesenia tries to yell - but that doesn't work either. Yesnia claps her hands and stomps her feet to the soft, yet sturdy ground - same results: no noise. The already overwhelming feeling of helplessness intensifies, but feels she isn't moving from her spot as nothing changes - she doesn't get closer or farther away from anything.    


A single teardrop rolls out of Yesenia's left eye as despair roils her mind. As the tear rolls, it feels like it's dredging a path down her face. When the tear reaches the edge of her chin, she feels it dangle, struggling to hang on to her maker. When the tear releases and drops, Yesenia's eyes follow it until it hits the floor. The instant the tear touches the ground it shakes. Ripples of blue spread out in all directions interrupting the intoxicating sea of red. Yesenia's eyes fixate on the blue and she notices that she can see Gad and Aisling continue to chant through the ripples of blue that tore a fabric in the red sea. Every few words, Gad takes a draw from his pipe and blows smoke at Alejandro’s body. Yesenia tries to yell, but no words escape her, and she sees Gad react. Again, she yells, and Gad reacts once again as words fly directly into Gad's conscious mind. Gad stands and stares at the man he's performing the ritual on with confusion and amazement all at once.


Gad steps towards Alejandro's body - Yesenia sees this through the thin, rippled blue veil that suddenly appeared, and now seems to be fading. When Gad' tries to communicate with Alejandro, the threshold disappears, and the floor is a sea of red again. Yesenia reaches for the floor and digs furiously into the ground to no avail. Dejected, Yesenia drops to her knees and hangs her head low to the ground - despair overwhelming her senses.


Yesenia rests her face on the warm, hard, red floor, and her eyes glisten with moisture. Tears stream down her face and hit the floor. The ground beneath Yesenia's aching body shakes and trembles. A watery stream rolls down her face and onto the ground. Every teardrop exponentially shudders the red sea Yesenia is in, but her emotions make her oblivious to external stimuli. When her eyes turn to the ground, she sees that the ground has turned into a sea of blue that is as fluid as a calm ocean on a windless day. Through the clear blue threshold, Yesenia can see Gad and Aisling staring at a blue glowing aura that has replaced Alejandro's body. Yesenia reaches her hand into the threshold and sees that Gad and Aisling acknowledge her hand reaching from another world. Aisling instantly grabs Yesenia's hand and pulls her through the portal. Yesenia's body falls through the veil and drops to Gad and Aisling's feet. Alejandro's body is gone and so is the blue aura.


Yesenia's hands reach to Aisling's feet and looks up to see Gad and Aisling staring at her in amazement. Gad takes a frightened step back and cautiously asks, "Who are you?"


"It's me, Yesenia. You extracted me from Alejandro's retched body." At that instant, Yesenia's body begins to float in the air. Aisling retreats - terrified. Yesenia's body dissipates quickly, and her form becomes translucent - almost like a hologram.  Gad and Aisling stare in amazement at a sight they've never experienced.  Yesenia sees a bright white light and is pulled to it like gravity. As she crosses the threshold, Yesenia disappears.


Yesenia tries grasping at anything around her but gives up when she can't arrest the pull toward the light. An all-consuming sensation overwhelms her as she transcends into new surroundings that feel strangely welcoming and peaceful. When Yesenia lands on the ground, her feet are the first to touch the ground. She's surprised to feel her bare feet touch soft dirt and thick grass nestle through her toes and tickle her ankles. Yesenia opens her eyes and sees high, rolling grass wavering softly as a gentle wind pushes from left to right. In almost every direction there are small groupings of people huddled around campfires. Closest to her, just a few feet away is a small group of elderly men and women. A short, wrinkled woman with brown, flowing hair, beautiful olive-browned skin, and a long dress that reaches down to her ankles walks towards Yesenia. The woman's sandals make a quiet snap with every step reminding Yesenia of a familiar. Before Yesenia can process who the woman is, she's embraced by the elderly woman who leads her to the campfire. Around the campfire are people who instantly rejoice at Yesenia's presence. Each one of them embraces Yesenia like a family member. The eldest of the group, a short stocky man, with brown leathered skin and jet-black hair pulls Yesenia down to a seat next to him on a large sturdy rock butting up to a bristling campfire. The man places his hand on Yesenia's lap and speaks with a peaceful and welcoming tone. "We've missed you. We have much to catch up on before we can move to the next place. Tell us about your life."


Instantly Yesenia recognizes that the people surrounding her are younger, more vibrant versions of family members who have passed. Each family member is an extension of not just one individual, but groupings of family members. Somehow, she understands that the people around her represent the heads of branches of her familiar tree - hundreds, if not thousands, of family members represented by a small group of six. As each familiar places their hands on her shoulders, she sees thousands of reels of existence run through her mind, each representing a life lived. At the end of her vision, the reel of her life flashes. At that moment, her spirit is absorbed by the short stocky woman and Yesenia feels freer than she has ever felt since she was born.

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