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Voices of The Lost

Jorge is a do it all tech worker for a tech shop in New York City. On a day that could have been like any other day his life gets turned upside down; when an unassuming Russian women Maria Borchev comes in with project for him. Little does Jorge know the project will bring him to question everything he knows about people, and himself.

By Jordan FlynnPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 16 min read
Voices of The Lost
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Jorge Vale didn't normally work from home, save but to get caught up on a project. Or to get a start on the next day's work. This naturally increased during the pandemic when he exclusively worked from home. This night was a different circumstance altogether.

He took off his glasses to rub the bridge of his nose. They weren't prescription but maybe should've been. They were blue light glasses; Jorge squinted at the subtly blurry computer screen.

No, Jorge much preferred the nerdy camaraderie of work in the office. The Darth Vader mask, the Dr.Who phone booth, and the other office flair that cluttered his work

The project that Maria Borchev brought in was a big one, one that would take time. The day she came into HelloTech she brought with her boxes. Boxes filled to the brim with old VHS, DVDS, and an old hard drive circa windows 2001. All of which Jorge assumed were full of family videos, pictures, and random files. Fortune would have it he was the only one in the store that night to close. Lucky me

She had a slight Eastern European accent that showed itself only with certain vowels and words. Everything about her screamed wealth. From her Gucci purse, her red bottomed shoes, and precision manicured nails. Jorge didn't know much about style, given that his typical attire was a revolving door of graphic t-shirts of different bands; but a blind man would sense that she had money. Which made Jorge wonder why she came to his little tech store between the Subway, and bodega on 34th street.

““Vell hello there, name is Maria, Maria Borchev, is it possible to convert these to ehh HD, or in one place?” Long, snow kissed red hair flowed out of her ushanka as she pulled it off her head.

Jorge fingered a hairy knuckle through a stack of Cd-Roms and stopped to admire a copy of Unreal Tournament 2004.

“Um, yeah I could do that for you.” Jorge flipped through a stack of VHS tapes. “These on the other hand will take some time.”

“Oh totally fine darling, I am less concerned with those. When do you think this will be ready?”

“I would say with all you have here, at least one week or more.”

“Oh darling, I need much sooner. I will pay much more than price.”

“Well the price is the price mam.”

Maria squinted her green eyes as she tilted her head to look past Jorge. She gestured for him to come closer.

Jorge leaned forward, she waited for him to come even closer to where when she spoke it was almost a whisper.

“You see, I need this soon, eh but I don't pay you for soon. I pay more you for..” She put her finger to her lips. “How you say, discretion. You understand?”

Jorge pursed his lips, what's this lady worried about? Some old Russian 70s porn maybe?

“You see I read reviews of this place, very good reviews in all of the city. So I figure I can trust this place, I can trust you with my personal things here.”

“Okay?” Jorge glanced around as he scratched his five o'clock shadow. “What are you asking?”

“I need this by the end of the week; and I need you to promise you won't share whatever you find in this.” Her fingers tapped the top of the box.

Jorge's eyes widened, “The end of the week? Mam I don't know if we can accomplish that.”

Though Maria wasn't having it, Jorge could see she was adamant on this “deal.”

“Listen, listen to me.” From her purse she pulled a fat envelope and opened it for him to see inside. It was full of one hundred dollar bills. Spit got caught in Jorge's throat. “Oh woah, mam this isn't-”

“Take it, take it and do as I ask. This is ten thousand, and I will get you another ten thousand when it's done.”

She slowly slid him the envelope. Jorge just stared at it with his mouth open, and the next thing he knew she was halfway out the door. She held the door open before she turned back to him. “I don't know what all is on the disks, but remember I am paying you for your silence.” She slipped on her ushanka and walked outside.

Those words left Jorge with a cold sweat and it wasn't from the brisk New York air that entered on her departure.

Contrary to how he felt those three days ago, there was nothing peculiar or alarming about what was in the boxes. So far anyways.

To this point it was just hundreds of family photos, some random videos, and even some probably virus ridden mp3's. The most precarious thing was a few photos of who he assumed was a younger Maria dressed a little provocatively. No 70's Russian porn yet.

By Jonathan Cooper on Unsplash

Jorge took a hard pull of his monster and checked the time. 11:33 PM peak performance time. A message from his boss John blinked for him on Microsoft teams.

How much OT do you think you will need for this?

Jorge leaned back, and adjusted himself in his chair before he typed his response. Not sure, it's a huge box but she needs it asap so I will let you know.

Jorge sighed and muttered to himself. “Get off my nuts.”

He still couldn't believe he had become 10k richer within minutes, and even more so after this was done he would be 20k richer. He had his suspicions he was being scammed sure; but he checked the bills and although they looked like they came from under a mattress, they were legit. His bank accepted them without question and that was good enough for him. Best to not look a gift horse in the mouth, he thought.

Whatever the hell that means.

To explain the situation to John he told him that she didn't speak a lick of English, and that she paid him 2k to finish the job as fast as possible. What's a little white lie? I mean I'm the one staying up until four AM every night. John took most of the 2k anyways, he did leave Jorge with an extra $500.00. Which is exactly why Jorge didn't share that he received $10,000 total.

Jorge unfurled the tape from one of the VHS’ and carefully dusted it as he attached it to the analog-to-digital converter. He observed the moving faces, and random locations that melted together on the media window. It was like skipping forward while watching Netflix, but this happened to be small windows into someone's life.

Jorge's peak performance kicked in truly now. He got up, cooked some hot pockets in the microwave, returned and started to work through some of the random documents on one of the CDs. The content downloaded quickly to his computer, from which he moved to a file to where he would separate the contents into another file in an attempt to organize them.

So far there was: family photos, travels, family videos, music, misc.

The CD download finished.

Jorge clicked open the downloaded zip and skimmed through the photos. There were pictures of a group of people on a beach, he could see a not so young Maria posing with a few young men. He flipped through several more. He noticed there was audio paired with it, he pressed play to which he regretted instantly. The roar of Guns N Roses Sweet Child of Mine shattered Jorge's eardrums, he pounced on the volume button.


He resumed his feverish click and drag of photos into the new Ft Meyers folder he just made. He paused on one that stuck out.

It was Maria, she was with two other men who had their arms around her. Although the poses were of people who were familiar with each other they all seemed stiff. It wasn't the firm faces that caught Jorge's eyes, it was the tattoos that did. Something about them.

Photo courtesy of - Zita Whalley

One of the tattoos was a cathedral of some kind in the middle of one man's chest. The other man had black stars on his upper shoulders across from each other.

"Hmph." Jorge belched so loud his back cracked.

Oh well, Jorge continued his work, swapped out one VHS for another, and decided he would load up the hard drive. “Holy shit.”

This had a shit load of data on it. “Well this is gonna’ take a minute.” Jorge continued his work on the VHS but he could feel his eyes getting heavier.He decided to take a little siesta and laid down on his bed to get a bit of sleep, despite the monsters he drank it came to him instantly.

When Jorge awoke the download was finished. He wiped the sleep from his eyes and took a big gulp of his now lukewarm monster. He noticed his team's messenger was blinking, he opened it but there were no new messages. “Dumb.” He moved on and opened the zip folder which took longer than it normally should. When the folder finally opened Jorge was taken aback at the amount of files inside it.

Jorge began the arduous process of moving the files, but first he would have to preview each one before he sorted where they should be. “Screw this, holy fuck.”

He soon decided after not much progress he would do every other file. “What's the chances this old lady is going to notice a few things out of place?”

His eyes next found a large folder titled Movers. He opened the first of them and winced in confusion.

The file was an excel spreadsheet filled with nothing but rows and rows of numbers. Hundreds of rows filled from left to right, top to bottom. Jorge sat back in his chair rubbing his now light beard. “Ehh what to label you?” He stared at the screen for a minute, before he shrugged. “Movers it is.”

As he moved the numerous files over, he couldn't help but theorize what these were. Account numbers? No, far too many of them, no way, ID numbers? Possible. Social security numbers? That one really gave Jorge pause for a moment.

By Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

He opened up one of the spreadsheets again and counted the digits. Nine digits. Then six digits, Oh my god, date of birth. “Wow.” He muttered.

The set of numbers after that were fifteen digits in length which Jorge couldn't guess as to what that was. He didn't want to say it but he may have been looking at a spreadsheet full of the information of hundreds of people. He could only assume it was a scam folder or something along those lines. “No fucking way. No fucking way, this ladies a scam artist?” He paused for a moment as he shook his head. He then thought how he would be $10,000 dollars richer.

Jorge grabbed the mouse and just dragged it over all 48 excel folders to highlight them and moved them over to the newly created file, Movers.

The next few folders were pretty routine, more family photos, mixed with what looked like a homework essay written about Plato's: The Republic. Jorge could feel the safe calm of boredom returning. Until he opened up the largest file on the hard drive. It likely took up the remainder of memory on the disk. It was labeled inconspicuously as 2008-2009. Jorge felt his throat tighten for a moment at the contents of it. It was photos, dozens and dozens of photos, but not of Maria and her family. They were women, children, and men; but mostly women. All in a front profile photo with a white cloth background. “Did you used to be a shitty photographer?”

The expressions of the people were mostly stone faced, blank, Jorge couldn't help but feel uncomfortable at the sight of some of the photos where the women had tears in their eyes. Nausea danced in his stomach.

He sat and stared at one specifically. A young girl, maybe early to mid teens. Dark hair parted at the top beneath a hijab, her eyes were a striking hazel.

Courtesy of National Geographic

All the people were different but all were the same. Hopeless, was the word that came to him. Jorge felt like he couldn't breathe, he stood from his desk with his phone in his hand. With what he would do with it he wasn't sure. His eyes moved from his phone to the blink of team's messenger. He clicked it open, again not seeing any messages from his boss, or co-workers. He began to step away when he saw where the messages came from. Jorge Vale blinked at him, he sent himself a message?

“Uhh what?”

Jorge clicked it open to see the message.



He stared at it for what felt like an eternity. Did he write that to himself in his sleep deprived delirium?

If he did, he didn't remember it. He typed in a response, with a smile. Uh Hi? He shook his head at himself. “What the hell is wrong with me?” He let himself exhale as if he were doing yoga stretches. Though long after Jorge's fingers left the keyboard the three dots that showed that someone was typing continued. The response made Jorge feel like he was going to have a bowel movement.

Why are you helping them?

Jorge's eyes widened, but then they rolled in annoyance.

John is this you? Cmon man I need all the time I can get, you are the one who hates giving OT. What do you need?

As the dots stopped he waited for a response from John's actual messenger profile. From him it did not come.

This is not John. This is the voice of the lost.

Ok if this isn't John prove it.

The dots on the chat continued.

John wouldn't know that you just took a nap. John wouldn't know that you just finished drinking your drink.

Jorge's heart moved into his throat, he glanced around him. He long ago covered his webcam in the unlikely event that this would happen, so that was ruled out. His home workstation was in his bedroom far away from curtained windows. Curtains purposely placed to blot out any sunlight. There was no way whoever this was should know what they knew.

Jorge's hands hovered over his keyboard as he considered what to say.

Because I am being paid $20,000…

Did you not stop to think why?

Of course I did, and do. I just don't know what I'm looking at.


You do.

Jorge didn't know what to say but to just ask again. Who is this? How are you on my messenger?

Continue the work. You will see.

With this Jorge decided he better run a check on his computer for possible hackers. If it wasn't John fucking with him it was someone who got into his computer. He ran both a IDS and SIEM package designed to find hackers, or any malware, but there was nothing.

Despite being the owner of a specialty Tech shop, John was hardly competent in anything related to the field. He could hardly work his cell phone. What was happening right now was far beyond John's capabilities. Or really anyone else who worked at HelloTech.

Jorge didn't know what to do besides the work. He continued to move and organize folders. The deeper he got the worse things became.

One folder labeled Fun Times was a video that showed groups of blindfolded people on their knees in a large ditch. Jorge could only guess what the next file Fun Times 2 showed. He clicked it heavily and the screen panned along the same ditch, now full with bodies. Bodies twisted together like bloody puzzle pieces. Someone on the video spoke in Russian, and laughed. He closed his eyes and exited the video. Jorge took deep breaths. Everything inside him said to stop. Though he wasn't going to, not now.

Next he found more photos of women though this time they were dolled up. Most of them adorned short skirts, with makeup smudged on their faces. Jorge quickly clicked through the photos and stopped at one. His eyes filled with tears.

The girl, the hazel eyed girl. There she was, her hair long and wild, now with makeup painted on her face like a clown. With the makeup and what she wore gave her a somewhat older appearance but Jorge doubted that much time had passed since the last photo of her. “I'm sorry.” He whispered to his screen; his hand went to cover his mouth, a solemn tear landed on it.

Deeper and deeper Jorge went.

Another message: You see? This is what you are helping, you are helping them kill us!

Jorge felt sick, a paralyzing weight made him feel like his stomach was spinning inside him.

You told me to continue the work! So that's what I'm doing. He angrily typed in response.

Jorge closed the messenger and continued. He could feel his heart rate slow after going through some more basic files, old video games, and normal photos. There that's better, no mass murder.

Or so Jorge thought, he clicked the next file named Paul Bunyan, which opened his windows media. Jorge felt cold sweat collecting at the back of his neck.

The media window was nothing but dark, until it shook from blackness to show a young man restrained to a chair. Jorges eyes absorbed the scene. The young man was probably about Jorge's age, his eyes almost black with horror. His mouth was filled with a gag and pleading grunts; his arms were tied behind his back to the chair. A voice out of screen said something in Russian; or at least what Jorge assumed was Russian. A machine revved up, and buzzed loudly. Jorge watched in horror as the chainsaw tore through the man's skin, muscle and bone.

“No, no, no! Oh my god!” Jorge spun away from his computer screen aghast. “Oh my god. Oh my fucking god.” The screams of agony muffled by the angry buzz of the chainsaw in the background. He quickly looked back to exit the video, and stared at his wall, he couldn't bring himself to look at the computer; nor remove his hand from over his mouth. He slowly stood and went to the bathroom to vomit.

He took off his blue light glasses and washed his face with cold water. What the hell is happening? Who am I dealing with? He stared in the mirror at the ghostly pale face that looked back at him.

With this in mind Jorge returned to his computer, he felt sick as he unlocked the screensaver. He let himself catch his breath. It was as if a cold hand around his throat had been removed and he could breath freely again. Jorge returned to his seat and entered into Google Maria Borchev, New York. Nothing.

He then entered her into FaceBook. There were a few profiles and he found one that looked mostly like her. The profile had twenty or so of the most generic looking friends possible.

Pulling out all the stops Jorge even attempted a personal information site, TLO. He inputted her cell phone and name. The phone number was actually linked to a Michael Peterson; though for Maria Borchev there was nothing. It was as though someone had just dropped her from the sky in the middle of New York city; she was a ghost reanimated.

Jorge's eyes finally returned to his team's chat. He had ignored it as long as he could. He opened it back to see a flurry of messages.

You see?

You see what you are dealing with?

You are helping them kill me! Kill us!!!

Don't you think you are just a loose end?

Jorge exhaled a shaky breath. His fingers trembled over his keyboard. So much so that he shook them both as he tried to restore his motor function. So what do I do? Either way she will know I've seen this.

You can't save us, but you can save others.

Jorge sat in thought for a moment. He then copied all the folders he had moved from the hard drive and saved them to an extra drive he had. He continued the work.

Roughly three days passed and Jorge was back in Smart Tech. It was an especially sleepy day, despite how tired he still was. He could feel the knot in his stomach nearly every moment of the day, as he waited until Maria would return. Just as when she first appeared in the store, Maria, or whoever she was, returned shortly after John left.

“Jorge! Everything is done no?”

He smiled as he handed her back her box full of items. He feigned a smile.“Now all of this,” he said as he gestured to the box, “is just on this.” He then handed her the sole hard drive and a few flash drives.

“Ahh very good, very good Mr.Jorge. I knew I could trust you!" She gave him a look, a glimmer in her eyes said it all. You, eh, you were able to complete everything, no?” She perhaps didn't know how extensive the crimes were on the hard drives, and CD's but she knew something was there. It was obvious.


“Okay well here is the rest of your payment.” She slid another bulging envelope across the counter to him.

As she turned to leave, she stopped just in front of the doorway. “You know there is Russian saying that I think of in this moment.” She turned to him, her green eyes bore into him like lasers; the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He felt small as she stood there looking at him.

“Trust in God, but mind your own business”

“That's a little on the nose isn't it?”

She smiled “it doesn't sound quite the same in English, much better in Russian.”

She slid on a pair of sunglasses before she walked outside.

Jorge let out a long sigh, he started to log back into his work station when a message from himself popped up on teams. He looked around tentatively before he opened it.

Thank you, you are doing the right thing.

Jorge started to type but nothing thoughtful could come to mind. His screen was suddenly blocked by a security alert. “Ah shit.”

Password expires in 3 days please reset your password.

He then got it in him that his time at Hello Tech should come to an end; maybe his time in New York for that matter. “I won't be here in three days.” He grabbed his jacket and crafted a well thought out text to John. He made up some bullshit about a sick relative, somewhere far away that he would have to care for, and he apologized.

Next he grabbed a thick priority mail package, complete with an overnight delivery stamp. It was addressed to the New York FBI Cyber Crimes Division.

Jorge put on his coat, and hustled out into the busy New York City streets. Despite the weight of the package, and the voices of the lost; Jorge could feel a weight being lifted off him.


About the Creator

Jordan Flynn

Out of Grand Rapids MI. I write because I have to. (I am a noob however.)

Follow me @ Jayyeffe on instagram

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (7)

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  • HandsomelouiiThePoet (Lonzo ward)about a year ago


  • Heather Hublerabout a year ago

    A very gripping story! Loved the moral dilemma element. Excellent work :)

  • This story kept me on the edge of my seat! I'm so glad Jorge did the right thing. I loved this brilliant story!

  • J. S. Wadeabout a year ago

    Sadly this is beyond fiction on todays world. Great story and well written. 🥰

  • Cathy holmesabout a year ago

    This is great. Well done.

  • Colt Hendersonabout a year ago

    Really enjoyed the ride.

  • JBazabout a year ago

    Excellent tension build and plot. I enjoyed this very much, nice entry choice

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