It was nearing sundown on that late autumn evening, and soon the frost would settle in for the long winter months. Mordecai Willington III was tending to the last of his crops, surveying the remaining gourds that littered his field in a tangled mess of pulp and vine, like a spider’s web in orange, brown, and yellow, speckled with flecks of green. It was the end of the harvest season, and though his yield had been high this year, he wasn’t selling as strongly as he had hoped. Soon the gourds would go to waste, buried beneath the snow along the cold Atlantic coast. Without the money he had hoped to make, his family would be forced to ration their goods until the spring.
Mordecai was gathering the final fresh gourds when a blinding white flashed across the field. It was radiant and burned without pain, as if God Himself had come down from above to bless the land. Mordecai was then surprised when a young girl emerged from the glorious haze, wearing boots to the middle of her shins that were covered in the fur of what appeared to be some relative of a sheep. Her long hair seemed an unnatural auburn shade and her clothing was immodest: a form-fitting pair of slacks made of some material he had never seen, and a button-down shirt in tartan tones that clung tightly to her well-supported bosom. She did not appear to be a harlot, though her face was indeed painted, giving her an angelic glow.
“I’m Alyssa,” she said, and when she smiled, her teeth were neither yellow nor jagged, but rather like a child’s in a full grown mouth.
“The Lord knows me as Mordecai Willington III,” he said, and bowed his nod. “Are you a messenger from God? Have you come to tell me how I shall feed my family through this cold, dark winter?”
“I do, but not from God. I come Northeastern University, four-hundred-and-something years in the future. Well, technically I grew up in Jersey but now I’m studying marketing. This is my internship semester.”
Mordecai turned his head and looked curiously at the strange woman. “Your words, they sound like English. I know them, yet I do not understand them. There is something queer about them.”
The girl — Alyssa — rolled her eyes and let out an exasperated. “Ugh, it was one time after volleyball practice. I’m not like a dyke or — you know, forget it, that’s not the point. I’m here to tell you that you need to take those leftover pumpkins, and turn those into beer, so we can get fucked up in the future. Oh, and from now on, you should probably ferment at the start of the harvest, so we can drink them starting in like, August. Got it?”
Mordecai laughed and said, “Others have done the same with their leftover gourds. It tastes retched compared to true ales! But it does indeed get you through the winter. But if we were to use our pumpkin harvest in the summer months, before the crops are ready, it would taste so green, and soiled. And then we would not have the crops to use in the fall!”
“That’s why you just dump a bunch of nutmeg and cinnamon and crap in, and you’ll be fine. And then you just sell that and you’ll make like a million dollars and you won’t even to worry about selling more crops in the future. I’m telling you, I’m marketing major, and I’m doing all kinds of alcohol brand ambassador stuff at my internship now. I totally know what I’m talking about.”
Mordecai took a step towards her and peered at her with squinted eyes. “Why would I waste such valuable spices? We do make ales from pumpkin at the end of the harvest, but only out of necessity, never for flavor, and certainly not with pride. Why should I listen to you? How do I know that you are not sent here from the Devil?”
“Ugh, why does everyone hate Jersey so much?” the girl replied. She crossed her arms beneath her breasts and said, “Just trust me, okay? Think of me as like, the Ghost of Frat Parties Future. Or something. I don’t know. I never read that book, just the SparkNotes.”
The next summer, Mordecai took his entire pumpkin harvest and did precisely as he was told. But no one would barter or pay for his beer, and without any other crops to sell, his family went cold and hungry, and over the course of the winter, his entire family succumbed to the elements. But their sacrifice made for some like, totally sweet parties in the first few weeks of the semester.