MARATHON, Fla. (WBTW) — A message in a bottle claiming to have been sent from Myrtle Beach in 1987 was found Monday in Marathon, Florida. 

As it turns out, however, the letter wasn’t sent from Myrtle Beach, nor was it written in 1987 – it took Nexstar’s WBTW just hours to track down the story – and the young prankster – behind it.

There’s not much to the letter, just a note challenging the person who finds it to return it to Zack Williams. 

Christopher Nolan found the message in a bottle in his mother’s canal in Marathon, which is in the Florida Keys. At first, he thought it was litter, so he picked it up. 

“I just noticed there was a piece of paper in it, so I dug it out,” Nolan said. “I figured nobody would’ve just stuffed it. It looked like a note. It took up the whole bottle. It was rolled up in there. I figured just take it out, and it’s this cool little note.”

The note was dated May 16, 1987 and said: 

“Dear person who finds this I want you to try to return it to me my name is Zack Williams and if I’m dead by the time you try to return the just keep it I put it in the ocean at Myrtle Beach SC.”

So, Nolan and his family began trying to find Williams. 

And find him, they have. However, it wasn’t actually Williams who wrote the letter — it was his son Noah. And the letter isn’t actually from 1987.

Williams said his son wanted to write a message, place it in a bottle and send it out to sea. However, Williams didn’t realize the message was placed in a canal while the family was vacationing in the Keys.

Noah said he backdated the letter so people would think it was older and try to find him. He used his father’s name because he wasn’t born yet in 1987. 

Williams initially thought the letter was one he placed in Myrtle Beach while vacationing there as a child. He said he is originally from York, South Carolina, and his family used to visit Myrtle Beach every year. 

“When I was a kid we went to Myrtle Beach every summer. I remember as a kid, writing a letter, putting it in a bottle, and throwing it out in the ocean,” Williams said. 

Williams said the one thing that was sticking out to him was the number seven written with a cross through it, which is how he was taught to write the number when he was a kid. 

“The only thing that was odd to me was that we had just been in the Florida Keys last week, and I was thinking to myself, wouldn’t it have been amazing if I had found the bottle I put in the ocean all those years ago,” Williams said. 

“I know my buddy here is the only other person I know who writes his sevens with a cross through it,” Williams said. 

“We laughed, because we could not believe what he had done had basically gone viral on the internet and that people were actually looking for us,” Williams said. “It’s kind of amazing that a complete stranger that we don’t even know puts a post on Facebook and this things circles all the way back around to us somehow.”

Williams said Noah has always been the one pulling pranks around the house. 

A Facebook post about the letter made by Nolan’s co-worker Leslee Spade had more than 1,000 shares as of Tuesday evening.