Canned Mail from Manhattan 2129

Zain Fauzan Naufal

(Winner, Short Stories English Language Fiesta 2021)


I look at the clock that is like watching me, it makes a click klok click Klok like a secret message that can not be touched by human language. At three o’clock in the afternoon, I’d been silent all day on the green sofa in front of an old-style webetop full of fire. It’s snowing so heavily out there, it’s approaching Christmas, but cold temperatures are really a threat. It was unthinkable that a man could live in such a terrible cold. But that assumption soon vanished when yesterday afternoon came my door was knocked on by something. I was in the kitchen preparing warm tea without putting up any preconceptions what was before. Perhaps it was Mr Franky, a side neighbour of the old house who loved to tell stories. I think he dared to break through the cold to get a cup of warm tea and a friend told me. Besides Mr. Franky I don’t know who else is on this street, I just moved to manhattan a week ago because of work. With a slow step I headed for the front door, when the door was open the bell attached above rang kling. But behind the cold door was not visible to Mr Franky or anyone else, there was only a metal tin. I’m trying to make sure again, I look around and there’s no one there.

The trash can was across the front yard, I brought the can inside. I just put that can on the kitchen table. I proceeded to pour hot water into a glass that had been attached to his side of the tea bag. I prepared also gingerbread snacks and chocolate cake. I returned to the comfortable and warm green sofa with both hands busy carrying tea and snacks. I just put myself on a green sofa backrest, the same knock was heard again at the front door, this time not once, but knocked many times. As soon as I got goosebumps, the fire inside the webetop was like a flashing extinguisher, the whole room felt dark and full of scary shadows. With little hesitation I walked towards the door. One long breath and then I opened the door. The result is nil, no one behind this door, only the cold brought by the east wind wandering. The next second I was really confused, like a fool at home. I’m trying to go further out to make sure it’s my leg that kicks something.

And something that feels light it turns out to be the exact same can as the previous can, I sort of felt de javu instantly. The can was exactly the same, as soon as I brought it in and stuck it with the can that was still on the kitchen table. This sounds silly, but I slapped my cheek pretty hard to make sure I had a dream or not and it just hurt and the palm stamp was slinging on my right cheek. Now that two mysterious cans are on my kitchen table, I’m looking at the old can, watching and cheering it on. When I shake the can, it turns out that there’s something that’s causing a light noise. I immediately opened both cans and found a piece of paper in each can. I opened the paper while walking towards the tempting green couch. Paper from the first tin is written


This is a letter from the future, precisely in 2129….

I just laughed.  “hahaha how funny people are on this street, they’re still using games like this.”

I know it’s weird and you will laugh before you read this letter.


I started to get a little suspicious, and got serious, in the last paragraph of the letter it was written.


Well if you’re curious, I’ll explain on the second paper.


I quickly opened the second fold of paper and inside there was a longer string of words than the first.

Let’s bet,

Later that afternoon, mr franky would come to your house complete with a blue coat and black jacket given to his son, he also brought a warm doll-shaped chocolate cake with a green smile on his round head. Mr. Franky will tell the story of his grandson who is in new York and his son who successfully became a stockbroker. Mr. Franky will be home at 7:00 if you don’t tell him to go home. You’ll believe it later, I’ll continue this letter tomorrow.

“Oh, my God, this time he tried me to pretend to be a fortune teller, who sent this? Or maybe my front neighbor wants to get acquainted with me. ah leave it alone.”

I put both papers on a round table next to the green sofa, I spent a cup of tea and snacks quietly without any interruption. I put a cup and a small plate for the cake into the kitchen. From then on, there was an uncomfortable feeling in me, I kind of expected something to happen, rather a mysterious prophecy that happened. But the feeling was the ups and downs between mystery and logic. Time felt weird that day, I don’t know what but I really don’t know, I just felt time became weird. I finished cleaning the kitchen, and was back sitting on the green sofa at 5 o’clock when at the door there was a knock and a weak sound from Mr Franky.

“Hi sam, are you inside?” shouted mr franky from behind the door

Hearing the sound my eyes turned instantly, slowly my neck as it was pulled pointing at the two papers that were on the table next to me. I really don’t know, confused and strange taste has enveloped my body so strongly. Behind the door, Mr Franky’s voice still sounded soft and slowly faded away. I opened the door to Mr. Franky and Gilaaa. Mr Franky stood in a blue coat and black jacket which was seen because mr franky’s coat was not tightly closed.

I really didn’t think by chance or rather the prediction of that mysterious canned letter especially after Mr. Franky pulled out a stuffed gingerbread cake with a green smile on his face making it all such a cryptic thing. Mr. Franky told me at length about his grandson and his son who were in new York exactly as it was written in the letter. Mr. Franky came home at 7:00 as I already know.

It was a long night, I had trouble sleeping, I didn’t want to sleep. I was pushed into a tumultuous feeling so that I was awake until the morning. So today I can’t stop looking at the outside window, I’m so curious what really happened. There’s no way I’m waiting outside, I don’t want to die silly waiting for that mysterious canned letter. So here I am now, on a cosy green sofa by the fireplace. It’s 3:00 and the letter hasn’t arrived yet. The feeling of drowsiness began to strike, and at exactly 4 o’clock, my door was knocked on many times. In one jump I immediately opened the door, wondering who was behind the letter more than anything. I opened the door quickly and the result was the same, no one behind it, just a can that was in the exact place I found it yesterday. With a feeling of impatience, I opened the letter and read it right when I got to the warm green couch.

This is the third letter, the last letter

You’ve heard the life cycle of difficult times will produce strong humans, strong humans will produce comfortable times. A comfortable age makes people weak, stupid people will produce difficult times.

I’m sending this to you in 2022, where the earth is being ravaged by viral and riots, wars, corrupt officials and more. I’m from 2050, it’s getting harder and people are racing to make tech and I’m choosing to create a time machine to see what the future looks like in 2129. I went to manhattan in 2129 and you know what I saw? Manhattan is a small town with a wooden bar, no skyscrapers and no ferary cars or flying cars. There are horsemen.

Look Sam, we never know what the future looks like. Living like dominoes, we’re connected.

Sam Whitney, Manhattan 2129

The next second, it was true that I was looking blankly into that paper, a letter from manhattan written by myself in 2129. Day after day I walked with a strange stare full of confusion. Until the 5th day after the incident, mr franky knocked on my house, offered me a gingerbread snack. I looked at that old man, full of loneliness. Because I don’t know what the future looks like. So that afternoon I treated Mr. Franky warmly and kindly as I did to myself.

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