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The Hellmouth in the Coffee Shop
It was a portal to the underworld, and evil beings would sometimes escape through it, causing terror in the city.
Written by: Celeste Kallio (@CelesteKallio) using ChatGPT and Sudowrite
Illustrations by: Andrey Kurenkov with MidJourney
Narration by: Andrey Kurenkov with ElevenLabs
The coffee shop, located in the heart of downtown, was known for its excellent brews and cozy atmosphere. However, no one knew what lurked above their heads. The roof of the coffee shop held a dark secret, a hellmouth. It was a portal to the underworld, and evil beings would sometimes escape through it, causing terror in the city.
One day, unaware of the hellmouth threat, a group of friends decided to spend the evening together.
Rachel, the confident leader of the group, had chosen the adorable coffee shop as a meeting place. Upon entry, Jack, the charming and sarcastic joker felt the satanic vibes of the place, but shrugged them off, keeping things light as was his way. Ashley arrived five minutes late with her nose stuck in a book.
As they waited for their drinks to cool, they noticed a strange, sulphurous smell that seemed to be coming from the roof. Suddenly, the lights flickered, and a voice whispered from above, "I am coming for you."
The friends tried to leave, but the door was locked, trapping them inside. They could hear the sound of something heavy dragging itself across the roof, getting closer and closer. Suddenly, the roof caved in, revealing a demonic creature with red eyes and razor-sharp claws.
The friends screamed in terror as the creature reached out for them. Rachel took charge, ordering her friends to find an escape route while she kept it distracted. She armed herself with a chair and prepared to fight the creature.
Jack and Ashley raced for the back door, but it was sealed just as surely as the front.
"We can't leave Rachel alone out there," Jack said.
Ashley nodded and followed him back to the hellmouth. She reached for the coffee pot, anything for self-defense.
Rachel was backed into the corner, still fighting the powerful creature with the chair. The monster hissed, and Rachel lunged forward, shattering it over the beasts' head. It growled in pain, and Ashley swung the coffee pot, the steaming liquid arcing from the container and hitting the demon's face with a sizzle.
The demon's flesh melted from it's face and dissolved into a blood-red puddle on the cafe floor. Under its skin was the pixie-haired barista who'd made their drinks not ten minutes prior.
"I hate when that happens," she said.
"This is a regular occurrence?" asked Rachel.
"Occupational hazard. As long as the hellmouth remains open, creatures from the other side can come and go. Sometimes they possess us." She yawned.
"Maybe your bosses should relocate?"
"Have you ever tried shopped for commercial real estate in this city?" She shook her head. "We close up in half an hour."
Jack shook his head as he returned to the chair, low-volume jazz playing in the background.
Rachel shut her laptop and loaded it into her backpack. "No one in the city is safe until we close that hellmouth for good."
"We?" Jack asked. "This task is above my pay grade."
Ashley was already researching on her phone. "You can only close a hellmouth from the other side."
The barista overheard. "If you want to go through, there's a ladder in the utility closet. You can climb up."
The three friends exchanged looks. "Are we really doing this?" Jack asked.
"Of course," said Ashley. "I had nothing better to do tonight than hang out in hell with the three of you."
The three friends climbed the ladder, and after what felt like an eternity they arrived at the other side. They were standing in a dark, twisted forest, the air thick with the smell of sulfur.
Small demons who came up only to Jack's knees followed the trio around, giggling behind their hands. Rachel shivered, but the other two seemed to shrug the creatures off.
The forest ended abruptly in a clearing, the light shimmering off of a huge lake. In the middle of the lake, a giant stone temple rose from the depths.
Suddenly, a huge winged creature rose from the lake, letting out a terrifying screech. Rachel gasped, and Jack stepped in front of her protectively.
But the creature flew away, and the group realized it was just a normal bat.
With newfound courage, the trio walked to the temple and entered. Inside, they could see the portal to the other side and on the altar, a strange, dark metal object was on display. It was covered in intricate runes and symbols, and it pulsed with an otherworldly energy that made their hair stand on end.
It took all their strength to move the heavy object, and between the three of them, they carried it to the lack outside. Rachel felt the metal beneath her hands glow with heat, and if she looked down at what she carried, she could feel the presence of ghosts and demons waiting to enter her nostrils and possess her mind.
She locked eyes with Ashley, then looked at Jack. The ghosts receded, growing weaker. The only thing that kept them tethered to their humanity was each other, and that bond was strong enough to get them to the edge of the lake.
Rachel and her friends threw the artifact into the lake. An enormous, terrible roar echoed around the clearing, followed by the sound of grinding metal, as the object sunk beneath the surface.
A moment of silence stretched before them. Then, the ground shook and a deafening roar filled the air. Slowly, the roar died away, and the air grew still again. They'd done it.
The hellmouth was closed.
The trio stood, looking at the peaceful scenery. After a moment, Rachel spoke.
"You know, I think I'm gonna stay here for a bit. Get to know the rest of the underworld, ya know?"
Jack and Ashley nodded, content to stay and explore with her, knowing that as long as they stuck together, the evil beings they encountered had no power over them.
Inspired by an eight-foot by eight-foot hole in the ceiling above the counter of a local coffee shop, I asked ChatGPT for a horror short story about a hell mouth in the ceiling above a cafe, and it responded with the skeleton of the story.
I kept asking questions to expand on some of the details, and fed the text into Sudowrite to see its suggestions for continuations. I combined the output of the two tools to create this story.
Unused AI-created images: