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Jacob's Ladder (1990) movie script
by Bruce Joel Rubin.
More info about this movie on IMDb.com
EXT. VIETNAM - DUSK
A swarm of helicopters swoops out of a yellow sky and
deposits an army of men over a Vietnamese hillside.
The SOLDIERS scramble over the terraced rice paddies for the
protection of the jungle. Falling into coulmns, like strands
of soldier ants, seventy-five men, at combat readiness,
assemble on the edge of a sweltering wilderness.
It is dusk. The mood is lazy, soporific. Members of one
platoon huddle close to the ground smoking a joint.
(to JACOB, a soldier
squatting several yards
Hey, Professor, how many times can
you shit in an hour?
Don't bug 'im.
Where are those gooks already?
Some offensive. I don't even think
they're out there.
Jesus, this grass is something else.
JACOB SINGER returns to the group, pulling up his pants.
Why even bother to pull 'em up?
You jackin' off out there again, huh
Hey, get off his back.
It's called philosophizing, right
JACOB gives them the finger.
Up yours, you adolescent scum.
Mount your bayonets.
Gimme that joint!
Hey, something's wrong.
What is it?
It's nerves. Take another toke.
GEORGE reaches out, extending a joint. Suddenly he gasps and
falls to the ground, his body convulsing uncontrollably. The
others stand back, startled. JACOB grabs him and shoves a
rifle barrel between his chattering teeth.
What's going on?
Before anyone can answer JERRY grabs his head, screaming. He
turns frantically in all directions.
Help me! Help me!
What the hell ... ?
In seconds JERRY is spinning wildly out of control, his head
shaking into a terrific blur. He crashes into FRANK with the
force of a truck. FRANK slams into the ground as all the air
rushes from his lungs. He begins gasping and
hyperventilating. His eyes grow wide and frenzied as he
gulps for air. Fear and confusion sweep across his face. The
MEN watch, horrified, as FRANK's terror escalates beyond
reason into all-out panic.
Suddenly FRANK begins howling. He lunges for his bayonet
and, without warning, attacks the MEN around him.
PAUL spins out of the way as FRANK's bayonet impales the
ground. JACOB jumps on top of FRANK and wrestles him into
the tall grass. PAUL rushes to his assistance.
JACOB stares at FRANK's face as FRANK struggles beneath him.
It is the face of a madman.
Good God! What's happening?
The sudden chaos is intensified by the sound of fighting
erupting behind them. Guns crackle and bursts of light
penetrate the darkening sky.
Behind you! Look out! This is it!
The MEN spin around. PAUL panics and jumps to his feet,
leaving JACOB alone with FRANK. FRANK's eyes burn with
demonic force as he gathers his strength.
Don't leave me.
Dark figures, silhouetted by the setting sun, are storming
at them. SOLDIERS squint to see. It is a horrifying vision.
Gunfire explodes on all sides. Suddenly PAUL flips out. He
begins screaming uncontrollably, ripping at his clothes and
skin. FRANK is struggling like four men and JACOB is
weakening in his effort to restrain him. Bayonets glimmer in
the exchange of fire. Bodies fall. More bodies keep coming.
The first wave is upon them.
ROD shoots into the air. Shadowy forms hurl forward
screaming like banshees. ROD, squinting, jabs with his
bayonet, piercing the belly of his attacker. Agonizing cries
accompany his fall. ROD yanks the bayonet out and stabs
In the midst of this madness FRANK shoots to his feet and
slams the butt of his rifle into JACOB's back. There is a
cracking sound. JACOB's eyes freeze with pain. His hands
rush for his spine. As he spins around one of the ATTACKERS
jams all eight inches of his bayonet blade into JACOB's
stomach. JACOB screams. It is a loud and piercing wail.
CUT ON THE SOUND OF THE SCREAM to a sudden rush through a
long dark tunnel. There is a sense of enormous speed
accelerating toward a brilliant light. The rush suggests a
passage between life and death, but as the light bursts upon
us we realize that we are passing through a SUBWAY STATION
far below the city of NEW YORK.
INT. SUBWAY - NIGHT
THE WHEELS OF AN EXPRESS TRAIN screech through the station.
JACOB SINGER, sitting alone in the last car, wakes up. The
sounds of the scream and the grating wheels merge. He is
dazed and confused, not certain where he is.
JACOB glances around the empty car. His eyes gravitate to
overhead advertisements for hemorrhoid perparations and
savings banks. Gradually his confusion subsides. Shifting
uncomfortably he pulls a thick book out of his back pocket,
"The Stranger" by Albert Camus. He begins reading. Another
station blurs by.
JACOB is a good-looking man, of obvious intelligence. He is
in his mid-thirties. It is surprising that he is wearing a
mailman's uniform. He doesn't look like one.
The subway ride seems to go on interminably. JACOB is
restless and concerned. He glances at his watch. It is 3:30
A.M. Putting his book in his back pocket, JACOB stands up
and makes his way through the deserted car.
INT. SUBWAY TRACKS - NIGHT
JACOB enters the rumbling passageway between the cars. The
wheels spark against the rails. The dark tunnel walls flash
by. He pulls the handle on the door to the next car. It is
stuck. He struggles with it. A LADY sitting alone inside
turns to look at him. She seems threatened by his effort. He
motions for her to help. She turns away.
A look of disgust crosses JACOB's face. He kicks the door.
It slides open. The WOMAN seems frightened as he approaches
Excuse me, do you know if we've
passed Nostrand Avenue yet?
(she doesn't answer)
(she does not
Look, I'm asking a simple question.
Have we hit Nostrand Avenue? I fell
(speaking with a Puerto
I no from around here.
(glad for a response)
Yeah, you and everyone else.
JACOB walks to the other end of the car and sits down. The
only other passenger is an OLD MAN lying asleep on the
fiberglass bench. Occasionally his body shudders. It is the
only sign of life in him.
The train begins to slow down. JACOB peers out of the
window. Nostrand Avenue signs appear. He is relieved. He
gets up and grabs hold of the overhead bar.
The OLD MAN shudders and stretches out on the seat. As he
adjusts his position, tugging at his coat, JACOB catches a
brief glimpse of something protruding from beneath the
coat's hem. His eyes fixate on the spot, waiting for another
look. There is a slight movement and it appears - a long,
red, fleshy protuberance. The sight of it sends shivers up
JACOB's spine. It looks strangely like a tail. Only the
stopping of the train breaks JACOB's stare.
INT. SUBWAY STATION - NIGHT
JACOB is the only passenger getting off. The doors close
quickly behind him. He glances at the LADY sitting by the
window. There is a fearful expression on her face as the
train carries her back into the dark tunnel, out of his
JACOB reaches the exit, a huge metal revolving door
surrounded by floor to ceiling gates. He is about to push
when he notices a chain locking it shut. He stares at it in
He turns in a huff and hikes to the other end of the
platform. As he approaches the far exit, his eyes widen. The
gate there is also locked. His hands reach for his hips as
he studies an impossible situation.
CUT TO JACOB stepping cautiously onto the ladder going down
to the tracks. A rat scampers by and he gasps.
He starts to climb back up the ladder but sees that there is
nowhere else to go. He juts out his jaw and steps back down.
JACOB is not comfortable on the tracks. He cannot see where
he is stepping. His shoes slpash in unseen liquid which
makes him grimace. The steel girders are coated in subway
grime. The oily substance coats his hands as he reaches for
Goddam fucking city!
He wipes the grime on his postal uniform as he steps toward
the center track. He reaches for another girder when it
begins to vibrate. Two pinpoints of light hurl toward him.
Then the noise arrives confirming his fear. A train is
bearing down on him. JACOB looks frightened, not sure which
way to go. He steps forward, up to his ankle in slime. He
cannot tell which track the train is on. It is moving at
phenomenal speed. The station is spinning. The train's
lights merge into one brilliant intensity.
In near panic JACOB jumps across the track as the train
spins by. Its velocity blows his hair straight up as though
it is standing on end. He clings to a pillar for support,
gasping in short breaths.
A few PEOPLE are staring at JACOB from the train. Their
faces, pressed up against the glass, seem deformed. A lone
figure waves at him from the rear window. The train bears
them all away. Then it is quiet again. For a moment JACOB is
afraid to move but slowly regains his composure. He
continues to the other side of the tracks and stumbles up
the ladder to the UPTOWN PLATFORM.
JACOB smiling. The smile, however, is one of irony, not
amusement. This exit too is locked. A heavy chain is wrapped
through the bars. JACOB stares at it with an expression of
A sudden muffled scream alerts JACOB that he is not alone.
His head turns but sees no one. He hears the scream again.
He senses its direction and walks toward the MEN'S ROOM. A
crack of light appears under the door. He can hear someone
moaning inside. JACOB knocks softly and the moaning stops.
The lights click off.
Hey, is someone in there?
There is no answer. JACOB stands silently for a moment, not
sure what to do. He can hear whispering. He chews his lower
lip nervously and then reaches for the door. It pushes open.
The light from the station penetrates the darkness. He
gasps. He sees a MAN tied naked to the stall with ANOTHER
NAKED MAN grabbing quickly for his clothes. The BOUND MAN
Fuck off! Mind your own business!
A THIRD MAN spins out of the shadows, pointing a kinfe at
You cocksucker! Get outta here.
The MAN's face is barely human. Before JACOB can even react
the door slams shut. The lock engages. The crack of light
reappears. JACOB can hear laughter coming from inside,
followed by a scream. He backs away from the door. His face
JACOB turns with full fury and storms the gate. The chain
gives wayto his anger. It flies apart and the gate flings
open. He stands in amazement, observing the chain as it
slides from between the bars and drops to the concrete
below. The gate squeaks loudly as JACOB pushes it aside and
clangs with an almost painful burst as he slams it shut.
EXT. WILMINGTON TOWERS - DAWN
JACOB walks toward the towering shadows of a massive PUBLIC
HOUSING PROJECT. It is dark and the moonlight silhouettes
the huge monolithic structures. JACOB passes through a vast
COURTYARD dominated by the imposing shapes. Aside from his
moving body everything is still.
INT. HALLWAY - DAWN
JACOB steps off a graffiti-festooned ELEVATOR into a long
impersonal hallway. He uses three keys to unlock the door to
INT. JACOB'S APT. - DAWN
JACOB enters the darkness without turning on the light. He
tries to navigate his way to the BATHROOM, illuminated by a
tiny nightlight in the distance. His effort is unsuccessful.
He bangs loudly into a table. A WOMAN"s voice calls out.
Jake, is that you?
What the hell did you do, move all
Why didn't you turn on the light?
I didn't want to wake you.
(sleepy but pleasant)
Gee, thanks a lot.
Where is the lamp?
Where are you?
If I knew I wouldn't have to ask.
What did you do? I was happy the way
I moved the couch. That's all.
JACOB crashes into it. A light suddenly goes on. JEZEBEL
"JEZZIE" PIPKIN, 33, is standing in the BEDROOM door tying a
man's terrycloth bathrobe around her waist. Although sleepy,
disheveled, and not looking her best, it is obvious that
JEZZIE is a beefy woman, juicy and sensual.
(nearly sprawled over
He pushes himself up.
What do you think?
What do you mean?
Oh God, Jezzie, ask me tomorrow.
It is tomorrow. Four A.M. How come
you're so late?
Roberts didn't show up. What could I
say? Besides, it's double time.
(seeing the grease on
What happened to you?
(unbuttoning his shirt
as he walks to the
JACOB steps into the BATHROOM and pulls at his clothes,
leaving them in a pile on the floor. He reaches for the
faucet and sends a stream of water pouding against the
porcelain tub. JEZZIE enjoys JACOB's nakedness. She reaches
out to his chest and squeezes one of his nipples. His body
tenses slightly. JEZZIE drops her robe. They enter the
EXT. VIETNAM - NIGHT
A DENSE RAIN falls on a dark night filling puddles of water.
JACOB is crawling through the underbrush in the Vietnamese
JUNGLE. His shirt is bloodsoaked. He moves slowly, creeping
on his right forearm. His left arm is holding his intestines
from spilling onto the grass.
Help me. Someone.
Suddenly a flashlight beam can be seen in the distance. It
dances around the bamboo trees and draws closer to JACOB. It
is impossible to see who is carrying it. The light darts
near the ground where JACOB is lying and then bursts
directly into his eyes.
INT. JACOB'S APT. - DAY
SUNLIGHT pours through the BEDROOM window. JACOB is sleeping
fitfully as a bar of light saturates his face. His hand
rushes up to cover and protect his eyes but the damage is
done. He is awake.
JACOB lies in bed for a few moments, dazed. Slowly his hand
gropes along the shelf at the head of the bed, searching for
his glasses. He has trouble finding them. As his hand sweeps
blindly across the headboard it hits the telephone and sends
it crashing to the floor. He sits up with a disgusted look
on his face and searches the out-of-focus shelf behind him.
Suddenly JEZZIE enters.
No. Have you seen my glasses?
(shaking her head)
Where'd you leave 'em?
I don't know.
Did you look around the headboard?
Jezzie, I can't see.
(she scans the shelf)
Maybe you left 'em in the bathroom.
She leaves and returns moments later with his glasses and a
large paper bag. She tosses them both onto the bed.
(he puts on his glasses
and notices the bag)
Your kid dropped it off.
(stooping to pick up the
No. The little one.
Eli. Why can't you remember their
They're weird names.
They're Biblical. They were prophets.
Well, personally, I never went for
And where do you think Jezebel comes
I don't let anybody call me that.
(shaking his head)
You're a real heathen, you know that,
Jezzie? Jesus, how did I ever get
involved with such a ninny?
You sold your soul, remember? That's
what you told me.
Yeah, but for what?
A good lay.
And look what I got.
I must have been out of my head.
Jake, you are never out of your head!
(ignoring the criticism
and reaching for the
What's in here?
Pictures. Your wife was gonna toss
'em so "what's his name" brought 'em
over on his way to school.
JACOB lifts the bag and pours the photographs onto the bed.
There are hundreds of them. He examines them with growing
Look at these, will ya? I don't
believe it. Jesus, these are
fantastic. Look, here's my Dad ...
And here's my brother, when we were
down in Florida.
through the pile)
Here. Look. This is me and Sarah when
I was still at City College.
(she studies the photo)
I can see what you mean.
Why you left.
What do you mean you can see?
Look at her face. A real bitch.
She looked good then.
Not to me.
Well, you didn't marry her.
He digs through more photos. Suddenly he stops.
To JEZZIE's surprise and his own, tears well up in his eyes.
For a moment JACOB is unable to speak. He just stares at one
of the photos. JEZZIE looks at the picture. It is an image
of JACOB carrying a small child on his shoulders.
Is that the one who died?
JEZZIE is silent. JACOB grabs a Kleenex and blows his nose.
Sorry. it just took me by surprise. I
didn't expect to see him this morning
... God, what I wouldn't ... He was
the cutest little guy. Like an angel,
you know. He had this smile ...
(choking up again)
Fuck, I don't even remember this
Hiding his emotions, JACOB scrambles over the bed and
reaches for a pair of pants. He pulls out his wallet and
then carefully puts the photo of GABE inside. It joins
photos of his two other boys. JEZZIE begins shoving the
remaining pictures back into the paper bag.
I don't like things that make you
I just want to look ...
He reaches into the pile for other snapshots. We see an
array of frozen moments, happy, unfocused, obscure. Suddenly
he stops and stares at a yellowing snapshot.
God, this is me!
(he holds up a baby
Look. It's dated right after I was
(he stares at it
What a kid. Cute, huh? So much
JEZZIE surveys the scene.
It's amazing, huh Jake? Your whole
life ... right in front of you.
(she pauses before
making her final
What a mess!
INT. HALLWAY - DAY
JEZZIE carries the garbage to an INCINERATOR ROOM down the
hall. She is carrying several bags. Two of them are tossed
instantly down the chute. She hesitates with the third.
After a moment she reaches into it and pulls out a handful
of photos. They are pictures of JACOB and SARAH. With cool
deliberation she drops them down the chute. An apartment
door slams shut. Quickly she disposes of the pictures
remaining in her hand. JACOB opens the door to the tiny room
as the bag filled with the memories of his life falls to the
Just gettin' rid of the garbage.
JACOB and JEZZIE, both wearing postal uniforms, head for the
ELEVATOR. They are surprised that it has arrived promptly.
JEZZIE reaches out and playfully sticks her tongue into
JACOB's ear. He pulls her into the ELEVATOR. They disappear,
laughing, behind its closing doors.
EXT. NEW YORK CITY - DAY
JACOB is driving a mail truck through the crowded streets of
midtown Manhattan. As he drives he is humming to himself a
rendition of Al Jolson's "Sonny Boy."
JACOB stops his truck in front of a LAUNDRY on West 46th
Street. He opens the back door and pulls a stack of boxes
toward him. He lifts them with effort and slams the door
with his foot. It doesn't close. He considers giving it
another whack but the boxes are heavy. He turns instead and
waddles toward the store.
INT. LAUNDRY - DAY
A heavyset WOMAN with a dark tan is standing behind a
counter cluttered with laundry. A picture of Richard Nixon
is still stapled to the wall. She looks at JACOB.
Where do you expect me to put those?
I don't have any room.
She tries clearing the counter, but it doesn't help.
How 'bout over there?
(she points to a table)
No wait. Do me a favor. Bring 'em to
the back room.
They're awfully heavy.
I know. That's why I'm asking.
JACOB waddles reluctantly toward the back of the store.
CHINESE LAUNDERERS are hovering over piles of clothes. Steam
from the pressing machines shoots into the air.
(huffing and puffing)
That's what I'd like to know. If you
see him on the street somewhere, tell
him he's fired.
JACOB stoops to put the boxes on the shelf. There is a
snapping sound and he winces in pain. Massaging his back,
JACOB unfolds some papers for the WOMAN's signature.
How was Palm Springs?
Hot. Where do I sign?
(pointing to the line)
You got a nice tan, though.
Tan? What tan? It faded on the
airplane. I'd try to get my money
back, but who do you ask?
(she looks heavenward)
Two hundred dollars a night, for
She hands JACOB the wrong sheet.
No. I'll take the other one.
(he takes it)
Right. Well it's good to have you
back. See you tomorrow, probably.
If you're lucky.
JACOB smiles to himself as he leaves the store. He walks
carefully. His back is out.
INT. MAIL TRUCK - DAY
ANGLE ON THE MAIL TRUCK stuck in traffic. Nothing is moving.
Horns are blaring and drivers are agitated. JACOB reaches
for a newspaper lying on top of his mail bags. To his shock
one of the bags appears to move. Curious, JACOB pokes at it.
Instantly a terrifying figure pops out from beneath it and
stares at him with a frightening glare. JACOB jumps back,
stunned. It is a moment before he realizes that he is
looking at an old WINO who has been sleeping in the truck.
The man's face is covered in strange bumps.
Goddamn it! What the hell ... ?
I didn't take nothin'. I was just
napping. Don't hit me. I was cold.
(lifting the man up)
What the hell do you think you're
doing? You can't do this. This is
He begins opening the door. The WINO begs.
Don't throw me out. They're gonna get
me. They'll tear me to pieces.
He holds on to JACOB's leg. JACOB tries to pull away.
Come on. You can't stay here.
Please! I never hurt anybody when I
was alive. Believe me. I don't belong
JACOB gives the WINO a strange look and then escorts him
from the truck. A hundred eyes peer out of motionless cars
and follow him as he leads the WINO to the sidewalk. JACOB
pulls a dollar bill from his pocket and places it in the
WINO's hand. The OLD MAN crumples it into a ball and turns
away. He has a frightened look on his face. JACOB returns to
the truck shaking his head.
He climbs into his seat and glances into his rear view
mirror. He notices the WINO edging fearfully along the side
of a building. A horn honks and traffic begins moving. When
JACOB looks back the WINO is no longer there.
INT. GARAGE - DAY
JACOB drives his mail truck into the huge POST OFFICE
PARKING GARAGE on 34th Street. His mind seems distracted. He
has difficulty parking.
INT. POST OFFICE - DAY
We see a vast room filled with hundreds of PEOPLE sorting
and moving mail.
JACOB, carrying a bag of McDonald's hamburgers, walks
stiffly through the aisles, his left hand rubbing his back.
Several workers greet him and grab for his french fries. He
offers them around.
ANGLE ON a conveyor belt sorting mail. A hand reaches in,
correcting mistakes. Suddenly a hamburger passes by. JEZZIE
looks up and smiles.
How's it going?
She takes the hamburger and shrugs.
I'm going home.
I don't know. One of these days, I'm
gonna see Louis. My back's killing
Now? What about the boss? He's not
gonna like it.
Well, I'll miss riding home with you.
I was looking forward to it.
I'll be glad to avoid the crush.
I enjoy crushing into you.
She grabs him and hugs him tightly.
Gently. My back.
JEZZIE ignores him and squeezes again.
INT. CHIROPRACTIC OFFICE - DAY
CUT ON A SCREAM to JACOB in a CHIROPRACTOR'S OFFICE. He is
lying on a long leather padded device that looks like an
instrument of torture. LOUIS, the Chiropractor, is a giant
of a man, 280 pounds. He is adjusting JACOB's spine.
Come on, Jake. That didn't hurt.
How do you know?
I know you. How come you're so tense
What can I tell you?
I saw Sarah the other day.
Her knee acting up?
What did she have to say?
Turn on your right side.
(he turns on his left)
How about the other "right?"
(JACOB turns back)
I don't understand you philosphers.
You've got the whole world figured
out but you can't remember the
difference between right and left.
I was absent the day they taught that
in school. What did she say?
Not much. She's like you that way.
Two clams. No wonder your marriage
didn't last. Put your hand under your
head. Take a breath and then let it
He makes a rapid adjustment pushing down on JACOB's thigh.
Ah, good. Now turn to your left.
She talk about the boys?
She says she can't get them new coats
because you haven't sent the alimony
for three months.
She told you that?
(he shakes his head)
Did she tell you about the $2,000 I'm
still paying for the orthodontist?
I'll bet she didn't mention that.
She said you were a son of a bitch
and she regrets the day she set eyes
I thought you said she didn't say
She didn't. That's about all she
said. Put your hand up. Good. I think
she still loves you. Take a breath
and let it out.
He makes an adjustment. JACOB screams.
Loves me!? She hasn't said a kind
word about me in years!
Right. She doesn't stop talking about
you. You're always on her mind.
That's love, Jake.
She hates me, Louis.
You should go back to her.
What? She threw me out, remember. She
wanted some professor to carry her
far away from Brooklyn. Only we
didn't make it. She can't forgive me
that she still lives in the same
house she grew up in.
Her problem is that you spent eight
years getting a PhD and then went to
work for the post office.
What can I tell you, Louis? After Nam
I didn't want to think anymore. I
decided my brain was too small an
organ to comprehend this chaos.
(looking at JACOB with
If it was any other brain but yours,
I might agree. Relax, this is going
to be strong.
I can't relax.
Wiggle your toes.
JACOB wiggles his toes. At that instant, LOUIS twists
JACOB's neck rapidly. There is a loud cracking sound.
EXT. VIETNAM - NIGHT
THERE IS A FLASH OF LIGHT. A MAN rushes at the camera
I found one. He's alive.
He shines a flashlight into the lens creating rings and
CHIROPRACTIC OFFICE - DAY
Suddenly LOUIS reappears, a halo effect still visible behind
God almighty. What did you do to me?
I had to get in there. A deep
adjustment. Rest a moment and let it
set a bit.
I had this weird flash just then.
I don't know. I've been having them
(he thinks a moment,
then changes the
You know, you look like an angel,
Louis, an overgrown cherub. Anyone
ever tell you that?
Yeah. You. Every time I see you. No
more Errol Flynn, okay? Your back
won't take it. You tell your girl
friend to calm down if she knows
what's good for you.
Louis, you're a life saver.
EXT. BROOKLYN STREETS - EVENING
JACOB is walking down Nostrand Avenue. He is singing to
himself and imitating Al Jolson.
When there are gray skies, I don't
mind the gray skies, as long as
there's you ...
He hums. It is near dusk and lights are just coming on. The
shop windows have a particularly garish look about them. The
mannequins are dressed in inexpensive, almost tawdry,
clothes and have a pathetic appearance. A few shops have set
up their Christmas decorations.
The ornamentation seems strangely out of place; almost
JACOB passes a street gang standing in the doorway of a
local drug store. They chortle and make taunting sounds.
(shaking her tits,
"Hey, Mr. Postman ... "
JACOB stops and stares at them. To their surprise, he begins
to sing with them. He knows the words. They like that. It is
a sweet moment.
JACOB continues walking. He comes to a cross street. The
light is green. He is still singing to himself and does not
notice a BLACK CAR sharging around the corner. The car is
moving at full speed, heading straight toward him. A YOUNG
MAN walking a few steps behind yells out.
JACOB turns and sees the car. He scoots out of the way but
it swerves in his direction. The YOUNG MAN calls out again.
With a huge thrust, JACOB hurls himself onto the curb as the
car shoots by. Two MEN are peering at him from the back
seat. They are laughing like madmen and shaking their heads.
They do not look human. JACOB yells and waves his fist, to
no effect. After a moment he turns to thank the YOUNG MAN
whose scream had saved him, but he is gone.
INT. JACOB'S APT. - DUSK
JACOB and JEZZIE are lying in bed. They are a sensual couple
and even in quiet, reflective moments such as this, their
positioning is erotic and stimulating. Both of them are
nude. JACOB's hands are clasped behind his neck and he is
staring mournfully at the ceiling. JEZZIE is lying on her
side, her left leg draped across JACOB's pelvis. Her head is
propped up on her right arm while her left hand strokes the
bayonet scar on JACOB's stomach. Neither are talking.
Suddenly, out of the blue, JEZZIE speaks.
Maybe it's all the pressure, Jake.
The money. Things like that. Or your
Why do you bring her up?
'Cause she's always on your mind.
When was the last time I said a word?
It has nothin' to do with talkin'.
She pauses for a while, long enough to suppose that the
conversation is over. Then she continues.
Or maybe it's the war.
JACOB closes his eyes.
It's still there, Jake.
(she points to his
Even if you never say a word about
it. You can't spend two years in
What does that have to do with
anything? Does it explain the
barricaded subway stations? Does it
explain those Godforsaken creatures?
New York is filled with creatures.
Everywhere. And lots of stations are
They're like demons, Jez.
Demons, Jake? Come on. They're winos
and bag ladies. Low life. That's all
they are. The streets are crawling
with 'em. Don't make em into
somethin' they're not.
(she rubs his forehead)
It's the pressure, honey. That's all
Those guys tried to kill me tonight.
They were aiming right at me.
Kids on a joy ride. Happens all the
They weren't human!
Come on. What were they, Jake?
JACOB doesn't answer. He turns over on his stomach. JEZZIE
stares at his naked back and drags her fingernails down to
his buttocks. Scratch marks follow in their wake.
You still love me?
He does not respond.
INT. JACOB'S KITCHEN - DAY
JACOB and JEZZIE are sitting at the breakfast table. JEZZIE
is reading the National Enquirer and chewing at her lip.
Suddenly a drop of blood forms and falls onto the formica
table top. Staring at it for a moment, she wipes it with her
finger and then licks it with her tongue.
JACOB is nursing a cup of coffee and staring out the window
at the housing project across the way. The toaster pops.
JEZZIE jumps. She gets up, butters her toast, and returns to
Says here the world's comin' to an
end. The battle of heaven and hell
they call it. Should be quite a show;
fireworks, H-bombs, and everything.
You believe them, Jake?
JACOB doesn't answer.
Me neither ... God, look at this. Two
heads. Only lived two days. A day for
each head. Could you imagine me with
two heads? We'd probably keep each
other up all night - arguing and
whatnot. You wanna see the picture?
He does not respond. JEZZIE gets up and walks over to JACOB.
Standing in front of him she slowly unties her robe and lets
it fall apart. She is naked underneath it. Sensuously she
leans forward, unbuttons his shirt, and strokes his chest.
She waits for a response from him, but there is none. He
sits silently, disinterested.
Furious, JEZZIE turns away. Grabbing the vacuum cleaner from
the broom closet she angrily unravels the cord and switches
it on. Breasts flash from beneath her gown as the vacuum
roars back and forth across the floor.
Goddamn you son-of-a-bitch! My
uncle's dogs used to treat me better
than you do. At least they'd lick my
toes once in a while. At least they
showed some fucking interest.
A NEIGHBOR bangs on the wall, shouting.
All right! All right! All right!
JACOB peers at the courtyard eighteen stories below and
watches the patterns of early morning movement. Tiny figures
drift purposefully over the concrete.
Suddenly the vasuum cleaner goes off. In the silence, JACOB
realizes that JEZZIE is crying and turns to see her curled
over the kitchen table. He walks to her side and strokes her
hair. JEZZIE begins to sob. After a moment she looks at him
with puffy eyes.
You love me?
He nods his head "yes." She smiles coyly and rubs her hair
like a kitten against his crotch. After a few moments she
Della's party's tonight. Why don't we
go? It'll take your minf offa things.
And I won't make you dance. I
(he nods his head in
consent. JEZZIE hugs
You still love me, Jake?
He nods his head again, only heavily, as though the question
INT. BELLVUE HOSPITAL - DAY
JACOB is in the "Mental Health Clinic" at BELLVUE HOSPITAL
walking through the PSYCHIATRIC EMERGENCY ROOM. It is
overflowing with people. Some are handcuffed to their
chairs. POLICEMEN are with them. JACOB approaches the main
RECEPTION DESK. He speaks nervously.
I'd like to speak to Dr. Carlson,
Carlson? Is he new here?
New? He's been here for years.
She shrugs and looks at a log book.
Not according to my charts. Do you
have an appointment?
(shaking his head)
Look, I need to see him. I know where
his room is. Just give me a pass. I
won't be long. Ten minutes.
Our doctors are seen by appointment
Damn it. I was in the veteran's out-
patient program. He knows me.
What's your name?
She walks over to a file drawer and goes through it several
times before coming back over to JACOB.
I'm sorry but there's no record of a
Jacob Singer in our files.
Whataya mean, no record?
You want me to spell it out? There's
That's ridiculous. I've been coming
here for years. Listen to me. I'm
going out of my fucking mind here. I
need to see him.
If this is an emergency we have a
staff of psychiatric social workers.
There's about an hour's wait. I'll be
glad to take your name. Why don't you
just fill out this form?
Goddamn it! I don't want a social
worker. Carlson knows me.
JACOB pounds the desk, rattling a tiny African violet and
knocking the RECEPTIONIST's forms to the floor. She grunts
angrily and stoops to retrieve them. Standing up her cap
hits a drawer handle and slips off. TWO KNUCKLE-LIKE HORNS
protrude from her skull where the cap had been. JACOB's eyes
lock on them like radar. He backs away. She immediately
replaces her cap and breaks the spell, but her eyes glare at
him with demonic intensity. JACOB, freaked, angry, turns and
runs toward the "In Patient" door.
Hey! You can't go in there!
JACOB doesn't stop. A POLICEMAN, guarding the entrance, runs
JACOB charges through the interior corridors of the aging
institution. A LINE OF MENTAL PATIENTS, all holding hands,
is moving down the hall. They break ranks as he charges by
and begin to scream. Their ATTENDANT tries to calm them down
but the sight of the POLICEMAN increases their hysteria.
They grab hold of him as he tries to get by.
LET GO! GET AWAY!
INT. GROUP ROOM - DAY
JACOB dashes out of view. He runs down another corridor,
wildly searching for a specific room. He finds it and rushes
inside. He is surprised to find A GROUP OF MEN AND WOMEN
seated in a circle. They all look up at him.
Can I help you?
I'm looking for Dr. Carlson. Isn't
this his office?
The LEADER stares at him uncomfortably. After a moment he
gets up and takes JACOB into a corner of the room. Everyone
is watching them. The LEADER speaks quietly.
I'm so sorry. Obviously you haven't
... Dr. Carlson died.
A car accident.
Jesus, Jesus! ... When?
Last month, before Thanksgiving.
How did it happen?
No one knows. They say it blew up.
Blew up? What do you mean it blew up?
The LEADER shrugs and tries to put his arm around JACOB, but
he pulls away.
Do you want me to get someone?
No. No. It's okay. I'm okay.
He backs quickly to the door. As he turns to leave he
realizes that all of the PEOPLE in the group are watching
Unsettled, JACOB hurries back into the hallway. He is
frightened and confused. Suddenly a voice calls out.
HEY YOU! MAILMAN!
JACOB turns and sees the POLICEMAN waiting for him. His gun
Hold it. Just hold it. Where the hell
do you think you are? This is
Bellevue, for God's sake. People
running around here get shot.
The GROUP LEADER pokes his head out of the door and motions
to the POLICEMAN.
It's alright. He's okay.
Come on, get out of here. I wouldn't
want to interfere with the U.S. Mail.
He leads JACOB toward the lobby. JACOB does not look back.
INT. DELLA'S APT. - NIGHT
WE HEAR LOUD DANCE MUSIC. SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE. JACOB is
with some POST OFFICE EMPLOYEES at a crowded party in a
small apartment. A DRUNK is telling a bad joke and trying to
hold a glass of wine at the same time. It is constantly on
the verge of spilling. JACOB is fixated on it. In the
background, we see JEZZIE dancing and motioning for JACOB to
join her. He nods no. The DRUNK, who keeps asking people if
they "get it," takes JACOB's head nodding as a sign of
confusion and keeps trying to re-explain the joke.
JACOB hears a strange noise and looks around. It seems to be
coming from a covered bird cage. He goes over to it and
lifts the cover. The BIRD is flapping its wings wildly as if
trying to get out. The sound, loud and insistent, startles
him. He lowers the cover.
In the DINING ROOM, several people are gathered around ELSA,
an attractive black woman who is reading palms. She sees
JACOB and calls over the music.
Hey, you! Let me look at your hand!
JACOB shrugs. DELLA, dancing nearby, calls out.
Go on Jake. She reads 'em like a
CUT TO A CLOSE UP OF JACOB'S HAND. ELSA is squeezing the
mounds and examining the lines. What begins as a playful
expression on her face turns suddenly serious. She reaches
for his other hand and compares the two of them. JEZZIE
looks over from her dancing and eyes the scene jealously.
You have an unusual hand.
I could have told you that.
You see this line here? It's your
life line. Here's where you were
born. And this is where you got
married. You're a married man, huh?
Oh oh. Nope. Divorce. See this split.
She studies his life line with growing concern. JEZZIE tries
to get JACOB's attention. He ignores her.
You know, you got a strange line
It's short, huh?
Short? It's ended.
It's not funny. According to this ...
you're already dead.
Just my luck.
THE DANCERS. Their movements are loose and getting looser.
The music is strong and insistent. The smokey atmosphere
disfigures the dancers and gives them a strange, distorted
appearance. Suddenly JEZZIE breaks from the crowd and
reaches for JACOB. He pulls away. Some of the MALE DANCERS
call out to him.
Come on man, show your stuff.
JACOB is easily intimidated. Relenting, he glares at JEZZIE
and nods apologetically to ELSA. It is obvious that he is
embarrassed at his inadequacy on the dance floor.
Come on professor. You got feet, too.
JACOB tries to smile but it is pained and unconvincing.
JEZZIE is playing with him, mimicking his movement. A number
of DANCERS notice and laugh, which only increases his
discomfort. JEZZIE's taunting has a strange effect on JACOB.
He grows distant and withdrawn, even though his body is
still going through the motions of the dance.
A MAN taps JEZZIE on the shoulder. She spins around,
smiling, and begins dancing with him. JACOB is left alone,
dancing by himself. He looks away, uncomfortable.
In the shadows a WOMAN kneels close to the floor. She seems
to be urinating on the carpet. JACOB is shocked. Several
DANCERS obscure his view. He turns around.
A PREGNANT WOMAN stands half naked in the kitchen. JACOB
cannot believe what he sees.
In the next room, past JEZZIE, JACOB glimpses a terrifying
image, a MAN whose head seems to be vibrating at such
enormous speed that it has lost all definition. Something
about the image compels and frightens JACOB. Slowly he
approaches it. As he draws nearer to it the tortured image
lets out a scream of such pain and unearthly terror that
JACOB backs away.
A WOMAN, laughing, grabs JACOB, spins him around, and begins
dancing with him. He is totally disoriented.
Hold me, baby!
She takes JACOB's arm and guides it to her back. THE CAMERA
follows his hand as it reaches the smooth skin beneath her
sexy, loose fitting dress. He runs his fingers up to her
shoulder blades. Then, suddenly, he recoils. Her back is a
mass of shoulder blades, hundreds of strange, bony
protrusions. JACOB gasps. Out of the blue, JEZZIE leans into
him and wiggles her tongue in his ear. JACOB, startled,
jerks his head and his glasses go flying to the floor.
He stoops down blindly to pick them up. Shoes just miss his
fingers as he digs between dancing legs trying to recover
them. Miraculously, he grabs the spectacles just before they
are crushed and slips them back on. Instantly his world
comes back into focus.
As he stands, JACOB is surprised to find JEZZIE facing him,
gyrating in wild abandon. There is a huge, satisfied smile
on her face. She grabs his hand as if encouraging him to
dance but it is obvious that she is dancing to her own
rhythm. JACOB stares at her, confused. It takes him a moment
to realize that her smile is not for him.
Standing behind JEZZIE is another DANCER, his hands around
her waist. They are moving together, locked in erotic
embrace. It appears that he is mounting her from behind.
Looking down we see that the DANCER's feet are deformed.
They have a bizarre clubbed appearance and look very much
like hooves. They skid and careen amidst the dancing feet.
Something horrible and winglike flaps behind JEZZIE's back.
We cannot make out what it is, but it elicits a primal
terror. Before JACOB can react, JEZZIE opens her mouth. With
a roaring sound, a spiked horn erupts from her throat. It
juts menacingly from between her teeth and thrusts into the
air. A CIRCLE OF DANCERS scream out in excited approval.
CUT TO JACOB's face as it registers terror and disbelief. He
stares at the DANCERS who are crowding around him. They have
become perverse, corrupt aspects of their normal selves.
JACOB grabs his eyes as though trying to pull the vision
from his head but it won't go away. The music throbs. His
actions become spastic, almost delirious.
JACOB is out of control. His frenzy becomes a kind of
exorcism, a desperate attempt to free himself from his body
and his mind. WE MOVE IN ON HIM as his eyes pass beyond
pain. The dark walls of the APARTMENT fade away.
EXT. VIETNAM - NIGHT
Strange faces in infantry helmets appear in the darkness,
outlined by a bright moon that is emerging from behind a
cloud. The faces are looking down and voices are speaking.
He's burning up.
That's some gash. His guts keep
Push 'em back.
His eyes focus on the moon. Rings of light emenate from it
filling the sky with their sparkling brilliance. The rings
draw us forward with a quickening intensity that grows into
exhilarating speed. The rush causes them to flash
stroboscopically and produces a dazzling, almost sensual,
surge of color. The display is spectacular and compelling.
Music can be heard in the distance, growing hard and
insistent, like a heart beat. Heavy breathing accompanies
the sound. The stroboscopic flashes are replaced by intense
flashes of red and blue light. The music grows louder and
reaches a thundering crescendo. Then silence.
INT. DELLA'S APT. - NIGHT
The APARTMENT reappears in all its normalcy. The neon sign
is still flashing outside the window. DANCERS are smiling
Cheers and applause ring out for JACOB and JEZZIE but JACOB
barely hears them. JEZZIE hugs him tightly. PEOPLE smack him
on the back.
You are out of your mind, man. Out of
your fuckin' mind.
Jake, you little devil. You never
told me you could dance like that.
Jezzie, what did you put in his
JEZZIE smiles while pulling JACOB to a corner chair. He
plops down. His chest is heaving and he is grabbing hold of
his stomach. Hie face is frightened and distorted.
I wanna leave. Get me out of here.
Oh, come on. It's early.
(pulling JEZZIE close to
him, his voice filled
Where are we?
(surprised by the
We're at Della's.
What do you mean? Where do you think?
Where's Della? Bring her here?
Why? What for?
Show me Della!
Hey, I'm here.
JACOB eyes her with a pleading look. Annoyed, JEZZIE leaves
JACOB and crosses the room. He watches her as she goes.
JACOB is holding his stomach and rocking painfully. Moments
later JEZZIE returns with DELLA.
Hiya Jake. That was some dance.
(staring at her closely)
You want to see me? Well, here I am.
What do you want?
Just to see you. That's all.
(a bit uncomfortable)
Well, how do I look?
Suddenly JACOB breaks out in a dense sweat and begins
shaking. His entire body is convulsive.
Are you feeling all right? Shit,
you're burning up. Feel his forehead.
(checking his forehead
Damn, that's hot. Maybe from dancing.
I think you should lie down.
JACOB is shaking uncontrollably. People are gathering
Can't you stop it?
If I could stop it, I'd stop it.
Is he sick?
He's on fire.
Let me help you.
She reaches out to JACOB. Unexpectedly he recoils, jumping
to his feet like a wild man. He begins to scream.
Stay away from me! Don't you come
near me! All of you. Go to hell! Go
to hell, goddamn you! Stay away!
JEZZIE stares at JACOB with a confused and embarrassed look.
A MAN whispers to her.
I'll call a cab.
INT. JACOB'S APT. - NIGHT
JACOB is lying in bed in his own BEDROOM with a thermometer
in his mouth. JEZZIE is pacing the floor with great
I've never been so mortified in my
whole life. Never! Screaming like
that. I don't understand what's
gotten into you, Jake, to make you do
a thing like that. You're not acting
normal. I've lived with too many
crazies in my life. I don't want it
anymore. I can't handle it. I'm tired
of men flipping out on me. Shit,
you'd think it was my fault. Well you
picked me, remember that. I don't
The NEIGHBOR pounds on the wall.
All right! All right!
JEZZIE jabs her finger at the wall.
If you go crazy on me you're goin'
crazy by yourself. You understand?
JEZZIE reaches for his mouth and pulls out the thermometer.
She looks at it closely and then squints to see it better.
What's it say? A hundred and two?
I don't believe this. I'm calling the
She runs out of the room. JACOB calls after her.
What does it say?
It's gone to the top.
How high is that?
The numbers stop at 107.
JEZZIE is on the phone to the doctor in the next room.
JACOB begins shaking again and reaches for the extra blanket
at the foot of the bed. He pulls it up around his shoulders.
The whole bed vibrates with his shivering. Suddenly JEZZIE
rushes through the BEDROOM and into the BATHROOM. SHe turns
on the bath water.
What the hell are you doin'?
Get your clothes off.
What are you talking about? I'm
Get your clothes off!
JACOB gives her a confused look as she rushes back to the
What'd the doctor say?
That you'd die on the way to the
hospital. Now get into that tub.
JACOB stares at her as she bursts back into the BEDROOM
carrying four trays of ice cubes. She hurries into the
BATHROOM and dumps them in the tub.
He's coming right over.
Goddamn it. Get in here. I can't
stand around waiting.
She rushes out of the BATHROOM and pulls JACOB out of bed.
He is shaking violently and she has difficulty navigating
across the room and undressing him at the same time. She
maneuvers him into the BATHROOM next to the tub. He looks
down at the ice cubes floating in the water.
You're out of your mind. I'm not
getting in there. I'd rather die.
That's your decision.
Look at me. I'm ice cold.
You're red hot, damn it. Get in
there. I've got to get more ice.
She runs out of the room. The door to the apartment slams
shut. JACOB sticks his toe into the water and pulls it out
He sticks his whole foot in and grits his teeth as the ice
cold water turns his foot bright red. He keeps it in as long
as he can and then yanks it out, quickly wrapping it in a
towel. JACOB rubs his foot vigorously to get rid of the
sting and stares at the water, afraid of its pain.
INT. CORRIDOR - NIGHT
JEZZIE is running up and down the CORRIDOR knocking on doors
and collecting ice cubes from those who will answer. She
hurries back to the BATHROOM with several PEOPLE behind her
carrying additional ice trays. One of the MEN is shifting
the trays in his hands to avoid the burning cold.
INT. JACOB'S BATHROOM
As JEZZIE enters the BATHROOM, JACOB is sitting on the rim
of the tub with the water up to his calves, shivering
I can't do it.
What kind of man are you?
She unloads two trays into the water.
Don't gimme that.
Jezzie! My feet are throbbing!
Sam, Tony, come in here.
Hey, I'm not dressed.
You got nothin' we ain't seen before.
SAM and TONY grab hold of JACOB who wrestles to get away.
Get the hell off me.
He's like a hot coal.
It's for your own good, Jake.
Let go of me, you sons of bitches.
The TWO MEN struggle with JACOB and force him into the
water. TONY winces when the water hits his arm. JACOB nearly
flies out of the tub. The TWO MEN fight to hold him down.
JACOB screams and cries for the MEN to let him go but they
keep him flat on his back.
I'm freezing! I'm freezing! Goddamn
(his hand turning red)
Sam, I can't take it.
Don't you let go.
Jez, get help. My hands are killing
Help me! Help me!
Here. I'll do it.
Take his legs.
Run your hands under hot water.
MRS. CARMICHAEL comes in.
I have some ice from the machine.
Bring it in.
Is he all right?
He doesn't like it.
I don't blame him. What should I do
with the ice?
Pour it in.
On top of him?
He's melting it as fast as we dump it
Okay. My husband's got two more bags.
He's coming. They're heavy.
TONY helps her pour the ice into the water. JACOB yells.
Oh God! You're killing me! Stop!
INT. A BEDROOM - NIGHT
CUT TO JACOB lying in a BEDROOM we have not seen before. He
is tossing and turning in his bed as though struggling to
get out. Suddenly he sits up and looks over at the window.
It is open and the shade is flapping. Cold air is blowing in
and he is shivering.
Damn! You and your fresh air.
He jumps out of bed and goes over to the window. He pushes
at the frame and it comes flying down with a loud bang. A
woman in the bed sits up. It is SARAH.
What was that?
I'm not cold.
Of course not. You have all the
blankets. It must be ten degrees in
here. I'm telling you, Sarah, if you
want to sleep with fresh air, you
sleep on the fire escape. From now on
that window is closed.
It's not healthy with it closed.
This is healthy? I'll probably die of
pneumonia tomorrow and this is
He settles back into bed and pulls the covers back over to
his side. He lies quietly for a moment, thinking.
What a dream I was having. I was
living with another woman ... You
know who it was?
I don't want to know.
Jezebel, from the post office. You
remember, you met her that time at
the Christmas party. I was living
with her. God, it was a nightmare.
There were all these demons and I was
on fire. Only I was burning from ice.
Guilty thoughts. See what happens
when you cheat on me, even in your
She was good in bed, though.
Go to sleep.
She had these real beefy thighs.
I thought you said it was a
Suddenly, out of nowhere, we hear the tinkling sound of a
music box. A YOUNG BOY enters the room, carrying a musical
LUNCH BOX in his arms. He is wearing a long T-shirt nearly
down to his ankles. We recognize him from his photograph. It
Daddy, what was that noise?
(surprised to see him)
(he stares curiously at
What are you doing ... ?
There was a bang.
It was the window.
Tell your mother.
Mom, it's ...
I heard you. Go back to sleep.
Will you tuck me in?
Oh ... all right.
She starts to rise. JACOB stops her and gets up instead. He
whisks GABE upside down and carries him into his
GABE'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
BEDROOM, licking his belly and tickling him all the way.
GABE laughs and snuggles into his pillow as soon as he hits
the bed. JED, 9, and ELI, 7, are both in bunk beds across
the room. JED looks up.
Jed. It's the middle of the night.
(he kisses GABE and goes
over to JED in the lower
You forgot my allowance.
Your allowance? It's five A.M. We'll
talk at breakfast.
Okay, but don't forget.
Suddenly another voice pipes in from the top bunk.
I love you, Dad.
What is this, a convention? I love
you, too, Pickles. Now go back to
He turns to leave.
Wait ... Daddy.
I'm not going anywhere. I'm right
(he looks at his son
Come on, go back to sleep. You can
still get a couple of hours.
He hugs him warmly and then walks to the door.
... I love you.
There is deep emotion and seriousness in GABE's words. JACOB
is struck by them.
Don't shut the door.
JACOB nods and leaves it a tiny bit ajar.
A bit more ... a bit more.
JACOB adjusts the opening enough to please GABE and make him
secure. GABE smiles and cuddles in his bed.
INT. SARAH'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
JACOB settles back into bed. SARAH turns over and gets
comfortable. JACOB lies on his back facing the ceiling. He
pulls the blankets up to his neck. He is overcome with
feelings of sadness and longing.
I love you, Sarah.
She smiles warmly. His eyes close and in a matter of seconds
he is back asleep.
EXT. VIETNAM - PRE DAWN
WE HEAR SUMMER MORNING SOUNDS, CRICKETS and BIRDS. The image
of trees materializes overhead and a beautiful pink sky,
just before sunrise, can be seen through the branches. It is
an idyllic setting.
Suddenly a strange sound can be heard in the distance, a
metallic humming, growing louder. There is a scramble of
feet and a sound of heavy boots moving through the tall
grass. Voices can be heard. Men's voices.
Thank God. Move 'em out!
Bust your balls!
Move it! Move it!
There is an instant swell of activity. Trees and branches
blur and speed by overhead. The idyllic image of moments
before reveals itself as a P.O.V. SHOT. The CAMERA races out
of a JUNGLE covering and into a huge CLEARING.
High overhead a helicopter appears. Its blades whirl with a
deafening whine. Long lines drop from its belly and dangle
in mid-air. SOLDIERS leap up into the air reaching for them.
The air is filled with turbulence. Tarps fly off dead
bodies. SOLDIERS hold them down. Voices yell but the words
are not clear. They are filled with urgency.
The CAMERA leaves the ground. The edges of the sky disappear
as the helicopter's gray mass fills the frame. It grows
larger and darker as the CAMERA approaches. Rivets and
insignias dotting the underbelly come into view. Suddenly
the stretcher begins spinning, out of control. Hands emerge
from inside, reaching out to grab it.
Watery, womb-like sounds rise out of nowhere, the rippling
of water, a heart beating. Gradually voices can be heard
mumbling; distant sounds, warm and familiar.
INT. BATHROOM - NIGHT
JACOB's DOCTOR reaches down to help him out of the tub.
Surprisingly JEZZIE and MRS. CARMICHAEL are standing there
too. JACOB stares at them in total confusion.
You are a lucky man, my friend. A
lucky man. You must have friends in
high places, that's all I can say.
SAM and TONY appear next to the DOCTOR. They are extending
their hands to the P.O.V. CAMERA. JACOB'S arms, nearly blue,
reach out to them.
Slowly they lift him from the icy water. JACOB takes one
step onto the tile and collapses to the floor.
CUT TO BLACK:
INT. JACOB'S BEDROOM - DAY
FADE IN sounds of feet shuffling across the carpet. A glass
rattles on a tray. A television is on low in the background.
Slowly the CAMERA LENS opens from JACOB's P.O.V. and we see
JEZZIE puttering around the BEDROOM. Suddenly she is aware
that JACOB is watching her. She smiles.
(she places her hand on
his head and strokes his
You're gonna be all right, Jake.
You're gonna be fine.
Am I home?
You're here. Home. The doctor said
you're lucky your brains didn't boil.
What a night, Jake. It was crazy. You
kept sayin' "Sarah, close the
window," over and over. And talkin'
to your kids. Even the dead one.
Weird. You know you melted 200 pounds
of ice in 8 hours. Amazing, huh?
Are we in Brooklyn?
You're right here, Jake. You just
(she puffs up his
The doctor said you had a virus.
That's what they say when they don't
know what it is. You can't do
anything for a week. He says you
(she strokes his
forehead, and gets up)
Now you just lie here. Mrs. Sandelman
made you some chicken soup. It'll
warm you up.
JEZZIE leaves the room. JACOB watches her as she goes. He
seems lost and confused.
INT. JACOB'S KITCHEN - DAY
JACOB, unshaven, wearing his bathrobe, is sitting at the
KITCHEN TABLE. PILES OF BOOKS on demonology are spread out
before him. He studies them to distraction. JEZZIE is
standing by the counter making sandwiches. She wraps them in
plastic Baggies and puts one in a lunch box, another in the
refrigerator. She is dressed in her postal uniform.
You know, you really ought to get out
today. You can't just sit around like
this all the time. It's not healthy.
It's not good for your mind. Go take
a walk, or somethin'. Go to a movie.
Christ, who's gonna know? You think I
care? I don't give a shit. Go. Enjoy
yourself. One of us should be having
a good time.
(JEZZIE knocks on
Hello! Anybody home?
(she looks in his ear)
Anybody in there?
JEZZIE just stares at him. She does not respond. JACOB
returns to his books.
CUT TO CLOSE UP IMAGES OF WINGED DEMONS, real demons, with
spindly horns and long tails. JACOB's huge finger,
magnified, scans page after page of ancient images and
archaic text. JEZZIE, enraged at his lack of attention,
returns to packing her lunch box. Suddenly she spins around.
Goddamn it! I can't stand it anymore.
I've had it up to here. Go ahead and
rot if you want ... You son-of-a-
bitch, I'm talking to you.
CUT BACK to the DEMONS. Suddenly a crashing sound catches
JACOB's attention as a KITCHEN POT flies by his head. He
looks up to see JEZZIE knocking pots and pans off the
kitchen counter and kicking them wildly across the room. The
noise is terrible. The intensity of her rage is shocking.
The pots crash into every surface, knocking all his books
onto the floor. And then, suddenly, she stops.
JEZZIE stoops down to the floor and picks up her sandwich,
stuffs it back in its plastic Baggie, and puts it back in
her lunch box. She is about to leave when she stops and
looks at JACOB.
(continuing, her anger
I made you a tuna fish sandwich. It's
in the fridge. Eat a carrot with it.
The aspirin's on the bottom shelf.
We're out of soap so, if for some
reason you decide to wash yourself
again, use the dishwashing stuff.
(she walks out of the
room and returns with
I'm sorry I yelled, but you get on my
(she bends down and
makes eye contact with
Hello? Listen, I gotta go.
JEZZIE sits on his lap, gives him a big kiss, and then,
unexpectedly, raises two fingers, like horns, over her head.
The gesture catches JACOB's full attention.
Look, I'm horny. Keep it in mind.
(she kisses his cheek)
Love me a little?
You are the most unbelievable woman I
have ever met. One second you're a
screaming banshee and the next you're
Florence Nightingale. Who are you?
That's what I want to know. Will the
real Jezzie Pipkin please stand up.
Suddenly the telephone rings. It startles them.
Oh shit. Tell 'em I've left.
JEZZIE grabs her jacket and shoves her arm in it upside
down. A pocketful of change falls on the floor. JACOB
smiles. JEZZIE curses as she struggles to pick it up and get
the jacket on right. JACOB gets the phone.
Paul Gruneger! Well I'll be
JACOB indicates it's for him. JEZZIE throws him a kiss
goodbye and hurries out the door.
Paul! You son-of-a-bitch, how the
hell are you? I haven't seen you in
what, five, six, years?
A long time.
Jesus Christ. How've you been? What's
happening in your life?
Me neither. Nothing too exciting. So
tell me, to what do I owe the honor?
I need to see you, Jake.
Shit, Paul. I'd love to see you. But
I'm kind of laid up here. I've been
I need to see you.
INT. PAUL'S CAR - DAY
JACOB and PAUL are driving through EAST NEW YORK heading
toward WILLIAMSBURG. The elevated trains rumble above them.
JACOB pats PAUL on the back.
Jesus, man, you look terrific. You
must have put on twenty pounds.
I work in a bakery.
You're lucky. How many vets you know
are even employed?
Count 'em on one hand.
It's almost like a conspiracy, huh?
No joke. Fuckin' army! That goddamn
war. I'm still fightin' it.
It's not worth it. You'll never win.
You tellin' me? How many times can
you die, huh?
PAUL looks in his rear view mirror before changing lanes. He
sees a black car tagging close behind him. He pulls out. So
does the car.
Still married, Jake?
You and everybody else. God I hate
this area. Makes me nervous.
Why the hell we drivin' here?
I just need to talk.
You can't talk in Brownsville?
I'm not sure where I can talk
Let's get a couple drinks, okay?
(he looks at his rear
Hey, take a look behind us. Do you
think that car is followin' us?
(turning to look)
That black car?
Pull the mirror down on the sun
Just watch 'em.
What's goin' on Paul?
I don't know.
You in trouble?
JACOB notices PAUL's left arm. It is shaking. The black car
passes on the left. Both PAUL and JACOB stare at it as it
INT. BAR - DAY
JACOB and PAUL are sitting in a dark booth in an obscure
WILLIAMSBURG BAR. It is nearly empty. PAUL is leaning across
the table in a very intimate fashion.
Somethin's wrong, Jake. I don't know
what it is but I can't talk to
anybody about it. I figured I could
with you. You always used to listen,
JACOB nods. PAUL takes a sip of his drink and stares
deliberately into JACOB's eyes.
I'm going to Hell!
JACOB's face grows suddenly tense.
That's as straight as I can put it.
And don't tell me that I'm crazy
'cause I know I'm not. I'm goin' to
Hell. They're comin' after me.
(frightened, but holding
They've been followin' me. They're
comin' outta the walls. I don't trust
anyone. I'm not even sure I trust
you. But I gotta talk to someone. I'm
gonna fly outta my fuckin' mind.
PAUL cannot contain his fear. He jumps up suddenly and walks
away from the booth. JACOB follows him with his eyes but
does not go after him. A YOUNG MAN in the next booth
observes the scene with interest. He looks vaguely familiar,
like we have seen him before.
PAUL stares out the window for a moment and then walks over
to the juke box. He pulls a quarter out of his pocket and
drops it in the slot. His finger pushes a selection at
random. Some '60's rock hit blares out. JACOB's mind is
reeling by the time PAUL sits back down.
Sorry. Sometimes I think I'm just
gonna jump outta my skin. They're
just drivin' me wild.
Who, Paul? What exactly ... ?
I don't know who they are, or what
they are. But they're gonna get me
and I'm scared, Jake. I'm so scared I
can't do anything. I can't go to my
sisters. I can't even go home.
They're waitin' for me, that's why.
PAUL's hand starts to shake. The tremor spreads rapidly to
his whole body. The booth begins to rattle.
I can't stop it. I try. Oh God! Help
JACOB slides quickly out of his side of the booth and moves
in toward PAUL. He puts his arm around him and holds him
tightly, offering comfort as best he can.
PAUL is obviously terrified and grateful for JACOB's
gesture. A few PEOPLE at the bar look over in their
It's okay, Paul. It's okay.
I don't know what to do.
Don't do anything.
(PAUL begins to relax a
bit and the shaking
Paul, I know what you're talking
What do you mean?
I've seen them too ... the demons!
(staring at JACOB)
You've seen them?
Everywhere, like a plague.
God almighty. I thought I was the
Me, too. I had no idea. It's like I
was coming apart at the seams.
Oh God. I know. I know.
What is it Paul? What's happening to
They keep telling me I'm already
dead, that they're gonna tear me
apart, piece by piece, and throw me
into the fire.
(he fumbles in his coat
pocket and pulls out a
small Bible and silver
I carry these everywhere but they
don't help. Nothing helps. Everyone
thinks I'm crazy. My mother filed a
report with the army.
She said I haven't been the same
since then. Since that night. There's
still this big hole in my brain. It's
so dark in there, Jake. And these
creatures. It's like they're crawling
out of my brain. What happened that
night? Why won't they tell us?
I don't know. I don't know.
They're monsters, Jake. We're both
seein' 'em. There's gotta be a
JACOB leans back in the booth, his mind racing. The YOUNG
MAN in the next booth is watching them with rapt attention.
INT. MEN'S ROOM - DAY
PAUL and JACOB are in the MEN'S ROOM. PAUL flushes the
I'm afraid to go by myself anymore. I
keep thinkin' one of 'em's gonna come
up behind me. Somethin's wrong when a
guy can't even take a leak by
himself. I've seen 'em take people
right off the street. I used to go
home a different way every night. Now
I can't even go home.
You come home with me.
What about your girlfriend? You don't
think she'll mind?
Are you kidding? We've put up more of
her cousins. You wouldn't believe how
they breed down there.
EXT. BAR - DAY
The TWO MEN leave the bar on a dingy side street. It is cold
outside. Christmas lights seem ludicrous dangling in the
bar's front window. PAUL looks at them and smiles.
PAUL steps into the street and walks to the driver's side of
his car. He pulls out his keys and opens the door. JACOB
looks down on the sidewalk and notices a dime.
Goddamn, this is my lucky day.
He bends down to pick it up. PAUL inserts the key into the
ignition and steps on the gas. He turns the key.
THE CAR EXPLODES. Pieces of metal and flesh fly into the
air. JACOB sprawls out flat on the ground as the debris
hurls above him. He covers his head.
CUT TO A HELICOPTER suffering an air bombardment. Flack is
exploding all around it and the shock waves are rocking the
craft violently. JACOB's eyes peer to the left.
INFANTRY GUNNERS are firing rockets into the JUNGLE below. A
pair of MEDICS are huddled over him. A sudden gush of
arterial bleeding sends a stream of blood splattering over
the inside of the windshield. The PILOT, unable to see,
clears it away with his hands.
JACOB screams over the roar of the chopper. One of the
MEDICS presses his ear close to JACOB to hear.
We're doing the best we can.
Get me out of here!
EXT. BAR - DAY
THE YOUNG MAN from the bar grabs JACOB under the arms and
drags him down the sidewalk.
Just hold on.
Where am I? Who are you?
The YOUNG MAN yanks JACOB around the corner just as another
explosion consumes the car. The air is filled with flames
and flying debris. The YOUNG MAN pulls JACOB into the bar.
Just lie still. You're okay. You're
The CUSTOMERS are in a state of bedlam. Part of the wall has
blown apart and bricks and glass are everywhere. The cross
from around PAUL's neck is buried in the debris. Sirens are
heard in the distance. A BLACK CAR speeds off down the
street. JACOB looks for the YOUNG MAN who had helped him. He
EXT. FUNERAL PROCESSION - DAY
A FUNERAL PROCESSION heads down Ocean Parkway.
INT. JACOB'S CAR - DAY
JACOB and JEZZIE are driving in an old Chevy Nova. They are
dressed up. JACOB's face is bruised and he has a gauze pad
over his ear. They drive in silence. JACOB appears very sad.
Slowly his right hand reaches across the seat, seeking
JEZZIE's. Their fingers embrace.
EXT. CEMETERY - DAY
The FUNERAL PROCESSION enters the CEMETERY. Cars park along
the length of the narrow road. MEN IN DARK SUITS emerge from
their cars along with WIVES and GIRLFRIENDS.
They are the SOLDIERS we have seen at the opening of the
film, only they are older now. A small group of FAMILY
MEMBERS are helped to the graveside.
JACOB joins the other VETERANS as pallbearers. They carry
the casket in semi-military formation to the grave.
INT. PAUL'S LIVING ROOM - DAY
JACOB'S OLD ARMY BUDDIES are sitting together in Paul's
living room, talking. PAUL'S WIFE can be seen in the
BEDROOM. Several WOMEN are comforting her.
JEZZIE is talking to a small group of LADIES in the DINING
ROOM and nibbling off a tray of cold cuts. PAUL'S SISTER is
with her and they seem to be having a lively, almost
JACOB and his BUDDIES are drinking beer. They all have a
tired, defeated look about them.
Did anyone see the police report? It
sounds like a detonation job to me.
The paper said it was electrical; a
Bullshit. Someone's covering
somethin'. That was no accident.
Why do you say that?
Cars don't explode that way. Any
simpleton knows that.
But the paper ...
That was set. I'm tellin' you.
By who? Why? Paul didn't have an
enemy in the world.
How do you know?
Hey, you're talkin' about Paul. Who'd
want to hurt him?
What did he talk about when you guys
went out? Did he say anything?
He was upset. He thought people were
You're kidding. Who?
He didn't know ... Demons.
(obviously struck by the
What do you mean, demons?
He told me he was going to Hell.
The statement has a surprising impact on the group. There is
immediate silence and eyes averted from one another.
What'd he say that for? What made him
say that? Strange, huh? Strange.
What else did he say, Jake?
He was scared. He saw these creatures
coming out of the woodwork. They were
tryin' to get him, he said.
(his arm shaking)
How long had that been going on?
A couple of weeks, I think.
He notices GEORGE's beer can rattling.
He say what they looked like?
No. Not really ...
Excuse me a minute. I'll be right
In one end, out the other, huh
GEORGE tries to smile as he hurries to the bathroom. His arm
is nearly out of control and beer is spilling on the carpet
as he walks.
Still a spastic, huh? I hope you can
hold your dick better than you hold
No one laughs. There is an uncomfortable silence.
EXT. A BACK ALLEY - DAY
The SIX MEN are walking quietly through an unpaved alley. It
is already gray and getting darker.
I know what Paul was talking about. I
don't know how to say this ... but in
a way it's a relief knowing that
someone else saw them, too.
You're seeing ... ?
They're not human, I'll tell you
that. A car tried to run over me the
other day. It was aiming straight for
me. I saw their faces. They weren't
What are you tellin' me? They're from
It was no joke, Rod.
Something weird is going on here.
What is it about us? Even in Nam it
was always weird. Are we all crazy or
Yeah, ever since that ...
He hesitates. They all understand.
What's that have to do with anything?
It was bad grass. That's all it was.
Grass never did that to me.
You know, I've been to three shrinks
and a hypnotist. Nothing penetrates
that night. Nothing.
It's not worth goin' over again and
again. Whatever happened, happened.
... I've seen them, too.
So have I.
Look, there's something fucking
strange going on here. You know
Paul's not the only one who's died.
You remember Dr. Carlson over at
Bellevue? His car blew up, too.
Dr. Carlson's dead?
An explosion, just like Paul's.
You think they're connected?
I think something's fucking connect-
ed. I mean, a car tried to run me
over the other day. Doug too, right?
We've got six guys here going fucking
Not me, buddy.
Okay, not you Rod. But the rest of us
are flipping out for some goddamn
reason. They're tryin' to kill us.
Fuck it man, we need to find out
what's going on.
Do you think it has something to do
with ... the offensive?
It's got something to do with some-
thing. I think we've got to confront
the army. If they're hiding shit from
us, we better find out what it is.
Come on, Professor. The army's not
gonna give you any answers. You'll be
buttin' your head against a stone
Maybe that's the only way to get
through. Besides, six heads'll be
better than one.
Not my head, buddy. Not me. I'm
gettin' a headache just listenin' to
We should get ourselves a lawyer.
I say you should get a shrink.
Too late. I've tried. I think you're
right, Jake. I'm game.
You guys are fucking paranoid. It was
bad grass. That's all it was. There's
no such thing as demons.
INT. LAW OFFICE - DAY
JACOB, FRANK, JERRY, GEORGE, DOUG, and ROD are sitting on
plush chairs in the LAW OFFICE of DONALD GEARY. GEARY, a
red-faced man with three chins, is sucking on an ice cube.
He looks at each of the men, and then spits the ice cube
into an empty glass. It clinks.
I'm sorry, Mr. Singer, but do you
have any idea how many people come to
me with the injustices of the world?
It'd break your heart.
This isn't injustice, Mr. Geary. The
army did something to us and we've
got to find out what.
The army. The army. What is it with
you guys? We're not talking about a
trip to the library here. This is the
United States Government for God's
sake. This is red tape coming out of
your ass. You know what I mean?
Exactly. And we need someone to cut
through it. We hear you're the man.
Oh yeah? What am I - Perry Mason
GEARY stands up and grabs a bag of Cheetos from a file
drawer. He chomps down a few and offers the bag to the
others. There are no takers. Thirsty, he downs the ice cube
and cracks it between his teeth.
Okay. I'll look into it.
The MEN are surprised and excited.
Wow! Do you think we have a chance?
What do you want, a fortune teller or
a lawyer? ... I'll need sworn
depositions from each of you and a
list of the other members of the
platoon, or their survivors.
Hey, this is great.
I'll tell you, if we find the
military is implicated in any way,
you could stand to recover quite a
lot of money. Not that I can predict
anything, but some class action suits
of this kind have been awarded fairly
generous judgements. That wouldn't be
so bad, would it Mr. Singer?
(GEARY looks at him
Ah! I thought you were a mailman.
Then why aren't you teaching? Why
aren't you in a university?
I'm too messed up to teach.
Ah! Well then, they're going to have
to pay for that, aren't they?
The MEN all nod in agreement.
EXT. OFFICE BUILDING - DAY
JACOB and the others exit the OFFICE BUILDING. They are
jubilant, clasping hands and smacking each other on the
back. We watch as they break up. JACOB heads for the subway.
FRANK and another group hop a cab. As the cab pulls away we
notice that a black car pulls out behind it. It follows them
out of sight.
INT. JACOB'S KITCHEN - NIGHT
JACOB and JEZZIE are making wild and unadulterated love on
the kitchen floor. The wastebasket flips over. JACOB's hand
splashes into the dog's bowl. Nothing impedes their passion.
JEZZIE laughs, hollers, and swoons. Hands grab hold of table
legs. Chairs topple. Feet bang wildly against the stove. It
is all mayhem and ecstacy. And then it ends.
JACOB's face is ecstatic. He can barely talk and simply
basks in JEZZIE's glow. She looks especially lovely and
radiant. They lie exhausted and exhilarated on the linoleum
So tell me ... am I still an angel?
With wings. You transport me, you
know that? You carry me away.
JEZZIE kisses him softly around his face and gently probes
his ear with her pinky. JACOB loves it.
We're all angels, you know ...
(she bites his earlobe.
... and devils. It's just what you
choose to see.
I love you, Jez.
Underneath all the bullshit, just
You know what? I feel ... exorcised
... like the demons are gone.
How come? The army?
In a way. At least now I have some
idea of what was happening. If we can
only get them to admit ... to explain
what they did ... I don't know. Maybe
it'd clear things up in my head. I'll
tell you something, Jez, honestly
... I thought they were real.
Silence. Suddenly JEZZIE roars like a monster and scares
JACOB half to death. They laugh and tumble back to the
INT. JACOB'S APT. - EVENING
JACOB emerges from the bathroom shower and pulls on a robe.
JEZZIE is moving rapidly around the KITCHEN.
I put a frozen dinner in the oven, a
Manhandler. It'll be ready at a
quarter of. I threw a little salad
together. It's in the fridge. I also
bought some apple juice, Red Cheek.
Don't drink it all. Oh, and Jake,
your lawyer called.
He did? When?
(grabbing her coat)
While you were in the shower.
Why didn't you call me?
He didn't give me a chance.
(she pauses nervously)
Look, honey, don't get upset, but
he's not taking your case.
What? What do you mean?
He said you didn't have one.
What's he talking about?
I don't know. That's all he said. He
wasn't very friendly. Oh, yeah. He
said your buddies backed down. They
chickened out, he said.
I don't believe this.
Baby, I'm sorry. I feel terrible. I'd
stay and talk but I'm so late. Look,
don't be upset. We'll talk when I get
home. See you around midnight.
(she kisses him on the
Bye. And don't brood. Watch T.V. or
JACOB'S APT./FRANK'S APT. - INTERCUT
The door slams securely. The locks set. JACOB begins
instantly rifling through a desk drawer. He comes up with a
frayed address book and looks up a number. He dials.
Frank. It's Jake. Jacob SInger.
We see FRANK standing at a window fingering the Venetian
blinds. He does not reply. The scene intercuts between the
Listen, I just got a strange call
from Geary. He said the guys backed
down. What's he talking about?
(fingering the Venetian
That's right. We did.
What does that mean, Frank? I don't
get it. Why?
It's hard to explain.
Well, try, huh.
I don't know if I can. It's just that
war is war. Things happen.
Things happen? What the fuck are you
talking about? They did something to
us, Frank. We have to expose this.
There's nothing to expose.
Jesus Christ! Who's been talking to
What's going on? How can you just
What about the others?
They're not interested, Jake.
Shit! You know it's not half the case
if I go it alone. We're all suffering
the same symptoms, Frank. The army is
to blame. They've done something to
us. How can you not want to know?
Maybe it's not the army, Jake.
What do you mean?
Maybe there's a larger truth.
What are you talking about?
Maybe the demons are real.
Goddamn it. What kind of bullshit is
Listen, Jake. I gotta go.
What the hell? What kind of mumbo
jumbo ... ?
I'm hanging up.
Don't bother to call again, okay?
FRANK hangs up. JACOB stands holding the phone for a long
time, until the high pitched whine from the receiver reminds
him it's off the hook. The sound frightens him and he slams
the receiver down. QUickly JACOB tears through his address
book looking for other phone numbers. They aren't there.
INT. JACOB'S APT.
JACOB hurries into the BEDROOM and pulls an old shoe box
from the closet. The box is filled with yellowing army
papers, dog tags, and photos of old comrades. Beneath his
discharge papers he finds a sheet scribbled with the names
and addresses of platoon buddies. JACOB grabs it. Then his
eyes fall on the frayed remains of an old letter. He picks
it up and unfolds it with great care. The letter is written
in a child's handwriting. "DEAR DADDY, I LOVE YOU. PLEASE
COME HOME. JED GOT A FROG. ELI LOST MY KEY. MOM WANTS YOU TO
SEND HER MONEY. LOVE, GABE."
EXT. BROOKLYN SIDEWALK - DAY
GABE, on a BICYCLE, is rushing down the sidewalk. JACOB is
running alongside him, holding onto the seat. Plastic
streamers trail from the handlebars. GABE is a bit wobbly,
but determined. After a couple of false starts, JACOB lets
go and GABE is riding by himself. For an instant, GABE looks
back at his father with a huge grin on his face. JACOB is
grinning, too. THE CAMERA HOLDS ON GABE as he pulls away
from us and heads into the distance.
CUT BACK TO:
INT. JACOB'S APT. - NIGHT
JACOB swallows hard as he stands there, holding the letter.
Suddenly his eyes lift off the page and glance at a full
length mirror mounted on the bedroom door. Something in the
mirror, like the image of a child, seems to move. He looks
over. There is nothing there. Curious, JACOB walks toward
the mirror. As his image appears, he gasps and stops moving.
To his horror and ours, it is his own back that is reflected
in the mirror. The impossibility of the moment startles him.
He lifts his hand. The reflection moves with him. Frightened
but defiant, JACOB moves toward the mirror. The image in the
mirror spins around. It is the FRIGHTENING VIBRATING FACE
he saw at the party with JEZZIE. An unearthly scream comes
from both their mouths.
INT. BROOKLYN COURT HOUSE - LATE AFTERNOON
A huge wooden door slams open. JACOB charges through it.
He is chasing his lawyer, DONALD GEARY, through a crowded
court house corridor. GEARY, sweaty and unshaven, is
cradling a Coke in one hand, a sandwich and a briefcase in
the other. His stomach bounces wildly as he walks.
Geary! Mr. Geary! Listen, goddamn it!
You can't just walk away from this.
GEARY keeps walking. JACOB catches up to him.
Who's been talking to you? The army?
Have they been talking to you, huh?
Nobody's been talking to nobody. You
don't have a case, you hear me? It's
pure and simple. Now leave me alone.
JACOB grabs the back of GEARY's jacket and pulls him up
Take your hands off me!
JACOB lets go. He stares into GEARY's eyes.
Listen, will you listen? They're
trying to get me. They're comin' out
of the walls. The army's done
something to me. I need you.
You need ... a doctor.
A doctor? And what's he gonna do,
tell me I'm crazy? They've fucked
with my head. I've got to prove it.
You've got to do something.
GEARY gives JACOB a pitiful look.
There's nothing I can do.
He turns and walks away. JACOB stands there a moment, and
then rushes after him. GEARY is biting into his sandwich.
Mayonnaise spills onto his hand. He licks it with his
tongue. JACOB catches up to him.
You mind? I'm eating, huh?
Something's going on here. You're not
telling me something. What the hell's
gotten into you?
I'll tell you what's gotten into me.
I don't know you from Adam, right?
You come to my office with this
bizarro story and demand I look into
it. Okay. I said I'd check it out and
I did. Now I don't know what kind of
fool you take me for, but you have
used and abused me, and I don't like
I talked to the Army's Bureau of
Records. You've never even been to
What the hell is that supposed to
It means that you and your buddies
are whacko, that you were discharged
on psychological grounds after some
war games in Thailand.
War games? Thailand? That's not true!
How can you believe that? Can't you
see what they're doing? It's all a
lie. We were in Da Nang, for God's
sake. You've got to believe me.
I don't have to do any such thing.
I'm eating my lunch, okay?
GEARY takes a swig of his COKE and begins walking away.
JACOB, enraged, charges after him. With a wild swipe he
sends the COKE CAN shooting out of GEARY's hand. It
reverberates down the corridor. GEARY is stunned.
You slimy bastard! You goddamn piece
With a powerful thrust, JACOB rips the sandwich from GEARY's
other hand. Tossing it on the floor, he grinds his heel in
it. Tomato and mayonnaise squirt onto GEARY's shoe. JACOB
CUT TO JACOB walking down the COURT HOUSE CORRIDOR to the
elevators. There is a look of satisfaction on his face.
CUT BACK TO GEARY. He picks up a telephone and dials.
Someone comes on the line. GEARY speaks quietly.
He's on his way.
CUT TO JACOB stepping onto the elevator. The doors close.
The Muzak is playing "Sonny Boy" with Al Jolson singing.
JACOB is surprised to hear it. He presses the down button
for the main floor.
The elevator stops at the LOBBY. The doors open swiftly.
SEVERAL SOLDIERS are standing there. They approach JACOB.
Let's go, Singer.
JACOB is shocked to see them. He tries to get away but two
of the SOLDIERS yank him toward the LOBBY doors.
You're coming with us.
INT. CAR - LATE AFTERNOON
JACOB is hustled to a waiting car and shoved inside, in
between two officious looking MEN. The doors lock from the
ARMY OFFICIAL #1
Mr. Singer. What an appropriate name
for a man who can't keep his mouth
The car drives off.
Who are you? What do you want?
ARMY OFFICIAL #2
We've been watching you for a long
time. You and your friends. You've
been exhibiting some very odd
behavior. Frightening people with
foolish talk about demons - and
JACOB tries to speak but the other MAN grabs his mouth.
ARMY OFFICIAL #1
You're in over your head, Mr. Singer.
Men drown that way. The army was
another part of your life. Forget it.
It is dead and buried. Let it lie.
ARMY OFFICIAL #2
I hope we have made our point, Mr.
JACOB stares at the men for a moment and then goes totally
berserk. Letting out a howl, he begins pounding and
thrashing like a madman. He is totally out of control.
With a wild leap, he grabs for the door handle. The door
flies open. It flaps back and forth, slamming into parked
cars. JACOB tries to jump out, but the men yank him back in.
One of them pulls out a gun. JACOB sees it and goes crazy.
His feet kick in all directions, slamming the DRIVER's nose
into the steering wheel and shattering the side window.
The car careens around a corner sending the gun flying to
the floor. The men dive for it. It lodges beneath the seat.
In the mayhem, JACOB throws himself out of the flapping door
and sprawls onto the pavement. People look down at him as
the car speeds away.
EXT. BROOKLYN - LATE AFTERNOON
JACOB grabs his back. He is in excruciating pain. He tries
to get up, but can't move. He reaches out to people passing
by, but they ignore him and hurry past.
A SALVATION ARMY SANTA has been watching the entire scene.
After a moment's consideration he leaves his post and ambles
over to JACOB. He leans down and steals his wallet.
EXT. BROOKLYN STREETS - EVENING
CUT TO THE SOUND OF A SIREN as an AMBULANCE races through
INT. HOSPITAL - EVENING
AN AMBULANCE CREW rushes JACOB to a HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM.
He's been screaming like a madman.
You better get something in him.
Hi. I'm Doctor Stewart. Can you tell
me what happened?
My back. I can't move. I need my
Your back? Did you fall?
They said he slipped on the ice. May
have hit his head.
Does he have any identification?
No waller. Nothing.
They stole it.
I don't know. Santa Claus. I had my
son's picture in it. Gabe's picture.
It's the only one I had.
We better get an orthopedic man in
here. Is Dr. Davis on call?
I'll page him.
Call my chiropractor.
We're doing everything we can.
Louis Schwartz. Nostrand Avenue.
I'm going to have to move you a bit,
just to check for injuries. This may
hurt a little.
No. Don't move me.
The RESIDENT ignores him. JACOB screams.
I don't have to ask if you can feel
Goddamn it. I want Louis.
He's out of it. I'm taking him down
An ORDERLY pushes the gurney through a pair of sliding
doors. JACOB tries to get up but the pain keeps him
INT. CORRIDORS - NIGHT
JACOB begins a journey down what appears to be an endless
series of corridors. The wheels of the gurney turn with a
hypnotic regularity. The smooth tile floor gives way to
roguh cement. The ORDERLY's feet plod through pools of blood
that coagulate in cracks and crevices along the way. The
surface grows rougher, the wheels more insistent. Body parts
and human bile splash against the walls as the gurney moves
Where are you taking me? Where am I?
You know where you are.
JACOB, panicked, tries again to get up but to no effect. He
glances to the side and sees mournful CREATURES being led
into dark rooms. No one fights or struggles. We hear muffled
screams from behind closed doors. Occasionally he glances
inside the rooms and sees mangled bodies in strange
contraptions, people in rusty iron lungs, and hanging from
metal cages. Dark eyes peer out in horror. In one room a
baseboard heater bursts into flame. No one seems concerned.
A door opens. A bicycle with plastic streamers on the
handlebars lies crushed and mangled. One of its wheels is
still spinning. JACOB cries out but it is not his voice we
hear. Rather it is a familiar unearthly roar. His whole body
stiffens. As he rounds the corner he sees a figure, its head
vibrating in endless terror. it is the same image he has
seen before. JACOB screams.
INT. ROOM - NIGHT
JACOB is wheeled into a tiny ROOM. A numer of "DOCTORS" are
waiting. As they draw closer JACOB notices that something
about them is not right. They bear a subtle resemblance to
Bosch-like DEMONS, creatures of another world. JACOB tries
to sit up but winces in pain. He cannot move. He tries to
scream but no sound comes out.
Chains and pulleys hang from the ceiling. They are lowered
and attached with speed and efficiency to JACOB's arms and
legs. He screams.
The "DOCTORS" laugh. There is the sound of a huge door
closing. JACOB is left in semi-darkness. Suddenly a new
group of "DOCTORS" emerges from the shadows. They are
carrying sharp surgical instruments. They surround JACOB,
their eyes glistening as bright as their blades. JACOB is
panting and sweating in fear. One of the "DOCTORS" leans
over JACOB. He gasps with horror. It is JEZZIE.
She pays no attention to him. He stares at her, THE CAMERA
TILTING DOWN HER BODY. As it gets to her foot we see it is a
decaying mass, swarming with maggots. The "DOCTORS" laugh.
They take great pleasure in his suffering. Their voices are
strange and not human. Each utterance contains a multitude
of contradictory tones, sincere and compassionate, taunting
and mocking at the same time. The confusion of meanings is a
torment of its own.
Get me out of here.
Where do you want to go?
Take me home.
(they all laugh)
This is your home. You're dead.
Dead? No. I just hurt my back. I'm
What are you then?
Then what are you doing here?
I don't know. I don't know.
(he struggles like an
This isn't happening.
What isn't happening?
Let me out of here!
There is no out of here. You've been
killed. Don't you remember?
A "DOCTOR" approaches JACOB. As he turns, we notice with
horror that he has no eyes or eye sockets. He extracts a
long needle from his belt and positions it over JACOB's
head. Like a divining rod it locates a particular point near
the crown of his head. With a powerful thrust the "DOCTOR"
shoves the needle into JACOB's skull and pushes it slowly
into his brain. JACOB howls.
EXT. VIETNAM - NIGHT
CUT RAPIDLY TO VIETNAM and a replay of flashes of the
opening sequence of the film. SOLDIERS with bayonets are
charging over rice paddies in the dark of the night. ONE OF
THE SOLDIERS charges at JACOB with a long bayonet blade and
jams it into his intestines. JACOB cries out.
INT. ROOM - NIGHT
CUT BACK TO THE "DOCTORS".
No! That was years ago! I've lived
years since then.
It's all been a dream.
No! The army did this to me! They've
done something to my brain.
(he raves like a madman)
Jezzie! I want my boys! Sarah! I'm
not dead! I want my family!
The "DOCTORS" laugh and back away, disappearing into the
INT. HOSPITAL - NIGHT
Suddenly a fluorescent light flashes overhead. NORMAL
HOSPITAL WALLS materialize instantaneously around him. A
NURSE enters the room followed by SARAH, ELI, and JED. They
approach JACOB who is lying in traction, suspended over a
He's still pretty doped up. I don't
think he'll be able to talk yet and I
doubt that he'll recognize you.
I just want to see him.
(eating a Snickers bar)
Dad. Hi. It's us. We just found out.
You look terrible. Does that hurt?
I'll be outside if you need me.
Jake. It's me. We heard what
(his voice hoarse,
I'm not dead. I am not dead.
No. Of course you're not. You've just
hurt your back. That's all. You're
going to be fine. It'll just take
A month, they said.
(trying to joke)
You just hang in there, Dad.
That's not funny.
(she reaches over and
rubs JACOB's brow)
What a mess, huh? God I wish there
was something I could do. I love you,
Jacob. For whatever that's worth. I
There is a sudden sound of "DOCTORS" laughing. JACOB jerks
his head painfully, but does not see them.
(yelling at the unseen
No! Oh God.
Jacob, what can I do?
JACOB's plea confuses SARAH. She responds with a kiss.
INT. HOSPITAL - DAY
DAYLIGHT streams through the window in JACOB's ROOM. He is
still in traction and looks very uncomfortable. A new NURSE
enters holding a plastic container with a straw poking out.
Well, don't we look better this
morning? That was a hard night,
Where am I?
You look awake to me. Here.
(she holds the straw to
Drink some of this.
(staring at her
Where's Sarah? Where did she go?
(the NURSE gives him a
She was here ...
No. No. You haven't had any visitors.
That's a lie. My family was here.
Last night! They were as real as you
The NURSE smiles and nods in appeasement.
This is not a dream! This is my life.
Of course it is. What else could it
She giggles nervously. There is a funny glint in her eyes.
JACOB looks away. He doesn't want to see it.
INT. HOSPITAL CORRIDOR - EVENING
There is a loud commotion in the HALL. We see LOUIS
SCHWARTZ, JACOB's chiropractor, screaming JACOB's name.
Jacob! Jacob Singer!
Louis! I'm here! In here!
INT. JACOB'S ROOM - DAY
LOUIS storms through JACOB's door followed by several NURSES
You can't go in there!
You're going to have to leave.
LOUIS stares furiously at JACOB stretched out on the
traction apparatus. He begins to yell.
Good God, Jake. What have they done?
(he examines JACOB and
screams at the NURSES)
What is this, the Middle Ages? And
they call this modern medicine. This
is barbaric! Barbaric!
(turning to JACOB)
It's okay, Jake. It's not serious.
I'll get you out of here.
(yelling at the ORDERLY)
What is this, the Inquisition? Why
don't you just burn him at the stake
and put him out of his misery?
LOUIS charges over to the traction equipment and begins
working the pulleys that suspend JACOB over the bed. The
NURSES and ORDERLIES become instantly hysterical and start
What the hell do you think ... ?
Don't you come near me.
You can't do that!
What is this, a prison? Stay back.
You can't. Call the police.
One of the ORDERLIES lunges at LOUIS who swings back at him
with one of the pulley chains. It just misses.
(to the ORDERLIES)
You take one step and I'll wrap this
around your neck.
LOUIS lowers JACOB into a wheelchair while holding the
others at bay.
Hold on, Jake, we're getting out of
NURSES and ORDERLIES part as he pushes him quickly from the
INT. CHIROPRACTIC OFFICE - EVENING
LOUIS helps JACOB over to an adjusting table in a room that,
compared with the hospital, is comfortable and serene. He
pushes a lever and the table rises to a vertical position.
JACOB leans against it and rides it down to a horizontal
position. Every moment is agony for him.
Half an hour from now and you'll be
walking out of here all by yourself.
Mark my words.
(JACOB barely hears
Well, you've done it to yourself this
time, haven't you?
Am I dead, Louis?
(LOUIS leans over to
Am I dead?
From a slipped disc? That'd be a
I was in Hell. I've been there. It's
horrible. I don't want to die, Louis.
Well, I'll see what I can do about
I've seen it. It's all pain.
(working on JACOB's
spine like a master
You ever read Meister Eckart?
(JACOB shakes his head
How did you ever get your Doctorate
without reading Eckart?
(LOUIS takes hold of
JACOB's legs and yanks
Good. Okay, let's turn over gently.
JACOB turns to his left. LOUIS shakes his head in dismay.
The other "right," okay?
(he helps JACOB turn
You're a regular basket case, you
(he moves JACOB's arm
over his head)
Eckart saw Hell, too.
LOUIS positions JACOB's other arm, bends his legs, and then
pushes down on his thigh. His spine moves with a cracking
sound. JACOB groans.
You know what he said? The only thing
that burns in Hell is the part of you
that won't let go of your life; your
memories, your attachments. They burn
'em all away. But they're not punish-
ing you, he said. They're freeing
your soul. Okay, other side.
He helps JACOB and repositions him. Again he pushes and the
Wonderful. So the way he sees it, if
you're frightened of dying and hold-
ing on, you'll see devils tearing
your life away. But if you've made
your peace then the devils are really
angels freeing you from the earth.
It's just a matter of how you look at
it, that's all. So don't worry, okay?
Relax. Wiggle your toes.
JACOB's toes dance as LOUIS gives him a quick, unexpected
jab to the lower vertebrae in his back.
Perfect. We got it.
(LOUIS pushes a lever
and the table rises back
Okay. Let's just give it a little
try. See if you can stand.
What? By myself?
You can do it. Come on. Easy. Just
give it a try.
JACOB steps cautiously away from the table. He moves
hesitantly, with deliberate restraint. LOUIS encourages him
like a faith healer coaxing the lame. His first steps have
an aura of the miraculous about them. JACOB walks slowly,
without help. LOUIS smiles impishly. He looks like a giant
LOUIS puts his arm around him. Then JACOB tries again,
gradually rediscovering his balance and strength. With each
step his confidence returns. LOUIS is pleased. Then,
suddenly, without warning, JACOB turns and heads toward the
What are you doing?
There's something I've gotta take
care of, Louis.
What are you talking about? You can
I'm walking, aren't I?
Jake, you need to rest.
Not tonight, Louis. No more rest.
He walks slowly out the door. LOUIS starts to go after him.
JACOB turns around and shakes his head "no." The look on his
face is firm and defiant. LOUIS stands back and lets him go.
I love you, Louis.
EXT. U.S. ARMY RECRUITING HEADQUARTERS - NIGHT
CUT TO A SDIREN BLARING and a fire engine racing through the
streets of lower MANHATTAN. A CROWD is forming. Banks of
lights and television cameras amass in the cold night air.
Police cars and mobile units rush to the scene.
CUT TO JACOB. In one hand he is holding a brightly lit
torch. In the other he is holding a container of gasoline
and pouring it on the steps of the U.S. ARMY RECRUITING
HEADQUARTERS. The volatile liquid splashes against his pants
and shoes and runs down the pavement. A five gallon
container lies emptying nearby. Gasoline belches from it
insistently and pours onto the street. Bystanders back away
as the gasoline snakes toward them.
Television cameras and microphones are pointing in JACOB's
direction, but at a safe distance. He is yelling at them,
his teeth chattering from the cold.
Listen to me. There were four
companies in our batallion. Five
hundred men. Seven of us were left
when it was over. Seven! Four
companies engaged in an enemy
offensive that not one of us who
survived can remember fighting.
Use the torch!
Shut up! Let him talk!
POLICE AMBULANCES are arriving at the scene. FIREMEN ready
hoses at nearby hydrants. T.V. CAMERAS are rolling.
You don't forget a battle where 500
men were killed. They did something
to us. I want to know the truth, the
goddamn truth. We have a right to
(he yells toward the
Are you getting all this? I want this
on national T.V. I want the whole
country, the whole world to know.
He holds up the torch. A loudspeaker blares through the
Throw that torch away, young man.
Give yourself up. You're under
For what? For seeking the truth?
Please come quietly.
You come near me and I'll blow us all
We're not going to hurt you.
Give him a chance to talk!
The army will deny it. They've
falsified my records. They've lied to
my lawyer, threatened my buddies. But
they can't threaten me.
You tell 'em!
Use the torch!
Okay, let's clear the area. Everyone
Suddenly a lighted match flies in JACOB's direction. JACOB
is enraged. He brandishes the torch at the crowd.
What the fuck do you think you're
Another match hurls toward him and dies in mid-air. PEOPLE
on the fringe of the crowd begin to run. JACOB does not
Clear the area. This is an order!
What is wrong with you?
We hear laughter from PEOPLE in the crowd. As JACOB looks
out into some of their eyes he sees demons looking back. One
of them throws another match. Crazed, JACOB runs toward
them. PEOPLE jump back.
Suddenly JACOB freezes. Standing on the sidelines, he sees
one of the ARMY OFFICIALS who trapped him in the car. He is
reaching for a gun. JACOB, stunned, yells at the top of hhis
With a defiant roar, he hurls the torch straight up into the
air. We see it from high above the crowd spinning higher and
higher. All eyes stare upward watching it in a kind of
wonder. Then, reaching its apex, just below the camera, it
begins its descent. The eyes of the crowd turn to fear.
He'll burn us all!
Screams fill the air as PEOPLE scramble to escape the
potential conflagration. Only JACOB remains motionless,
standing silently, almost heroically, in the middle of it
Suddenly the torch hits the ground and a pool of gasoline
ignites with a blinding flare that sends flames shooting in
all directions. PEOPLE panic. T.V. REPORTERS and CAMERAMEN
run for their lives. The ARMY OFFICIALS run, too. The flames
travel toward the Army Headquarters and rush along the curb.
Water hoses are trying to douse them as they spread. JACOB,
surprisingly untouched by the fire, walks slowly through the
frightened crowds, as if in a daze. Viewed through the
flames the scene momentarily resembles a vision of Hell.
INT. JACOB'S APT. - NIGHT
JACOB, stark naked and covered with goose bumps, runs his
hands under a shower spray. The water is freezing and taking
forever to warm up. Anxious, he dashes past his gasoline
drenched clothes, grabs a suitcase from the BEDROOM closet,
and stuffs it with clothes. Then he hurries back to the
shower, tests it, and jumps in.
Lather covers JACOB's hair and hangs over his tightly closed
eyes. His entire body is covered in suds. He is washing as
quickly as he can. Suddenly he hears a noise as someone
enters the BATHROOM. He tenses.
Who's there? Who is it?
JACOB struggles to rinse the soap from his eyes. They are
burning. There is a shadow behind the curtain.
Goddamn it! Who's there?
JACOB rubs his eyes, fighting to see. Suddenly the shower
curtain is thrown back. JACOB backs against the wall. A hand
reaches in and pulls his nipple, pinching hard.
It's just me.
Who else were you expecting?
Where were you, Jake? Where've you
been? Why haven't you called?
Stay away from me, Jez.
I want to know. You tell me!
You wanna know? Turn on the T.V.
Watch the fucking news!
He pushes her away and jumps out of the shower.
CUT TO JACOB dressing and piling the last of his clothes
into his suitcase. JEZZIE, in a robe, is watching him.
Why are you doing this to me? You
can't just go away like that.
I can do anything I want.
She stares at him with confusion. THE PHONE RINGS.
It might be for me.
I'm not here. You haven't seen me.
(picking up the
Hello ... No. He's not here. I
haven't seen him all night ... I
don't know when ... What? Tell him
(JACOB looks up)
Vietnam? ... What experiments?
JACOB lunges for the phone.
Hello. This is Jacob Singer.
(he listens with growing
God almighty! ... Yes. Yes. Right.
Where would you like to meet?
How will I know you.
Okay. I'll be there.
He hangs up the phone and stands silently for a moment.
Who was that?
A chemist. Part of a chemical warfare
unit out of Saigon. He said he knows me
and that I'll know him when I see him.
I have no idea.
I was right. There were experiments.
I knew it. I knew it. My God.
How do you know he's telling the
JACOB stares at JEZZIE for several moments but does not
respond. The 11:00 NEWS is coming on. JACOB's image can be
seen on the screen. We hear the NEWSCASTER speaking.
Leading the news tonight, a bizarre
demonstration on the steps of the
U.S. Army Recruiting Headquarters, in
downtown Manhattan. Jacob Singer, an
alleged Vietnam vet ...
... challenged the United States Army
to admit conducting secret experi-
ments involving hundreds of American
soldiers during the Vietnam war.
JEZZIE stares at the T.V., dumbfounded. JACOB takes his
suitcase and hurries to the front door. He opens it a crack
and peers into the hallway. JEZZIE runs after him.
Don't leave me, Jake.
INT. BUILDING CORRIDOR - NIGHT
JACOB gazes at JEZZIE for a moment and then hurries down the
HALL. He stops at the stairwell and looks back. JEZZIE is
still standing there. She is very angry. JACOB just stares
at her for a moment and then disappears down the stairwell.
EXT. WESTSIDE HIGHWAY - NIGHT
JACOB is standing near the WESTSIDE HIGHWAY. GROUPS OF MEN
in black leather jackets are crusing the area and look at
JACOB with curiosity. One MAN in particular cruises by
several times and then approaches him.
Jacob? Hi. I'm Michael Newman.
Friends call me Mike.
JACOB is startled when he sees him. He is the same YOUNG MAN
who has appeared throughout the film, assisting JACOB in
moments of crisis.
Surprised, huh? I told you you'd know
me. I've been tracking you for a long
time. I just wish I'd spoken to you
I don't get it. Who are you? Why have
you been following me?
Observation, mainly. Clinical study.
You were one of the survivors.
A POLICE CAR passes them on the street. MICHAEL grabs
JACOB's shoulder and turns him away nervously.
Come on, we're not safe around here.
HUDSON RIVER PIER - NIGHT
JACOB and MICHAEL are sitting on a deserted WEST SIDE PIER
that juts into the Hudson River. JACOB is wide-eyed as he
listens to MICHAEL's story.
So first I'm arrested, right? Best
LSD I ever made, right down the
drain. I figure this is it, twenty
years in the joint, if I'm lucky.
That was '68.
Long time ago.
(nodding his head)
Next thing I know I'm on Rikers
Island. Ever been there?
(JACOB shakes his head)
Suddenly they take me from my cell to
the visitors room with those bank
teller windows, you know. Four army
colonels, medals up their asses, are
standing on the other side. They tell
me if I'll come to Vietnam for two
years, no action, mind you, just work
in a lab, they'll drop all the
charges and wipe the record clean.
Well, I'd only been in jail for
thirteen hours and I already knew
that Nam couldn't be any worse.
Shows how much you knew.
No shit. They had me by the balls.
Next thing I know I'm in Saigon ...
in a secret lab synthesizing mind-
altering drugs. Not the street stuff
mind you. They had us isolating
special properties. The dark side,
you know? They wanted a drug that
increased aggressive tendencies.
Yeah, sure. We were losing the war.
Right. They were worried. They
figured you guys were too soft. They
wanted something to stir you up, tap
into your anger, you know? And we did
it. The most powerful thing I ever
saw. Even a bad trip, and I had my
share, never compared to the fury of
That's what they called it. A fast
trip right down the ladder.
(he makes a downward
dive with his hand)
Right to the primal fear, the base
anger. I'm tellin' you, it was
powerful stuff. But I don't need to
tell you. You know.
JACOB can barely catch his breath, the information he is
receiving is so powerful to his mind.
We did experiments on jungle monkeys.
They bashed each other's heads in,
gouged out their eyes, chewed off
their tails. The brass loved it. Then
they made us try it on Charlie.
They took these POW's, just kids
really, and put 'em in a courtyard.
We fed 'em huge doses of the stuff.
(he stops for a moment;
a tear rolls down his
They were worse than the monkeys. I
never knew men could do such things.
The whole thing still blows me away.
MICHAEL stands up and begins walking in circles around the
PIER. JACOB, astounded, gets up and walks beside him.
Anyway, this big offensive was coming
up. Everyone knew it; Time Magazine,
Huntley-Brinkley. And the brass was
scared 'cause they knew we couldn't
win. Morale was down. It was gettin'
ugly in the States. Hell, you
Like it was yesterday.
A couple days later they decided to
use the Ladder, on one test
battalion. Yours. Just in an
infintessimal dose in the food
supply, to prove its effectiveness in
the field. They were sure your unit
would have the highest kill ratio in
the whole goddamn offensive. And you
did, too. But not the way they
JACOB is beginning to shake. MICHAEL pulls a container of
pills out of his jacket pocket.
Hey, want something to calm you down?
Made 'em myself.
JACOB shakes his head no.
None of us can remember that night. I
get flashes of it but they don't make
sense. We saw shrinks for years. But
nothing they did could ever touch it.
What happened? Was there ever an
A couple of days later. It was
fierce. You guys never saw it.
But there was an attack. I can still
see them coming. There was a fight,
Yeah. But not with the Cong.
He hesitates, obviously uncomfortable. His eyes grow puffy.
He looks at the river for a moment and then turns to JACOB.
You killed each other.
JACOB's mouth drops open. The words hit him like a truck.
EXT. VIETNAM - NIGHT
Gunfire explodes in the darkening sky. We are in Vietnam.
JACOB is at the bottom of a trench fighting with FRANK.
Chaos surrounds them. Men are screaming. The ENEMY is
storming at them from the rear. ROD raises his bayonet and
jams it into the belly of his ATTACKER. It is only after a
series of jabs that he sees it's another American he's
killed. ROD's eyes go blank with confusion and terror.
Oh my God! WHAT'S HAPPENING?
JACOB looks up from the trench and sees a continuing wave of
AMERICAN SOLDIERS bearing down on them. FRANK jumps up,
knocking JACOB to the ground and slamming his rifle into
JACOB's back. As he spins around JACOB sees another SOLDIER
charging at him. His bayonet is aimed at JACOB's stomach.
For the first time JACOB remembers the face of his attacker.
He is a YOUNG MAN, about 19 years old, clean cut, wearing
glasses. The two men stare at each other in terrible
confusion. It seems like a moment out of time. And then the
SOLDIER lurches forward and rams his bayonet deep into
CUT TO MICHAEL BACK ON THE PIER. JACOB is ashen-faced.
It was brother against brother. No
discrimination. You tore each other
to pieces. I knew it would happen. I
warned them. I WARNED THEM. But I was
just a hippie chemist, right? Jesus!
And I helped 'em make the stuff ... I
talked to the guys who bagged the
bodies. They're in worse shape than
you, believe me. They saw what was
left. It's a blessing you don't
remember. Of course the brass covered
the whole thing up right away. Blamed
it all on a surprise attack.
I needed to find you. The Ladder was
Tears start flowing down MICHAEL's face. He wipes them with
his sleeve. It takes him a moment to regain his composure.
JACOB is shivering. MICHAEL takes off his jacket, drapes it
over JACOB, and leads him to the wooden planks overhanging
the water. They sit and gaze at the JERSEY SHORE.
CUT TO A WIDE SHOT OF MICHAEL AND JACOB in pre-dawn light.
I always suspected the effects might
come back. That's why I had to follow
you. I had a hell of a time getting
hold of your records.
If you knew, why didn't you say
The truth can kill, my friend. Five
hundred men died out there. This
isn't a story they'd ever want out.
When Paul's car blew up I realized
the scope of the thing. I knew they
So why tell me now?
Because I can get rid of the demons.
I can block the Ladder. I have an
antidote. We can kill them off,
chemically speaking. They'll all
disappear. It's chemistry, my friend.
I know. I created it. Come with me. I
INT. HOTEL - DAWM
JACOB and MICHAEL enter a sleazy HOTEL near the docks,
obviously frequented by a gay clientele. JACOB is
uncomfortable as they check in. MICHAEL, however, seems to
know the ropes. They go to a small room.
You come here often?
Sometimes. When it's convenient.
How do I know this isn't just some
kind of, you know, seduction or
Hey, I'm not the problem. You've got
bigger problems than me.
MICHAEL reaches into his pocket and casually extracts a
I came up with the formula back in
Nam but I never got a chance to use
I'd hoped I'd never have to. Just
open your mouth and stick out your
What is it?
Don't worry. Take it. It'll free your
head. Come on.
I don't know.
"Yea though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death I shall fear
no evil," but no one ever said I
wouldn't be shittin' in my pants
every step of the way, huh?
(JACOB smiles, his mouth
Stick out your tongue.
(JACOB obeys as an
eyedropper deposits a
drop of liquid on the
back of his tongue)
That'a boy. Now why don't you just
lie down and relax.
It's strong stuff.
JACOB stretches out on the bed. He stares up at the ceiling
and examines its pock-marked lunar look. Long cracks and
shallow craters erode the surface. It is an alien terrain.
I think I'm falling asleep.
The words send a jolt through JACOB's body. He tries to get
up but can't. He's frightened.
I can't move.
What's happening? Help me.
The ceiling begins to rumble. Cracks split wide open. Huge
crevasses tear through the plaster. JACOB's world is
crumbling. He stares in horror as DEMONIC FORMS attempt to
surge through the rupture above him. Piercing eyes and sharp
teeth glimmer in the darkness. Hooved feet and pointed claws
clamor to break through.
Instantly MICHAEL appears standing over him. He is holding
the vial with the antidote. He draws an eyedropper full of
the fluid and holds it over JACOB's mouth.
JACOB fights him, but MICHAEL forces the entire contents of
the eyedropper down his throat. JACOB gags. He tries to spit
it out, but can't.
Suddenly the ceiling erupts in violent clashes as whole
chunks break off and collide like continental plates. The
collisons wreak havoc on the DEMONS, chopping and
dismembering them. Body parts fall from the ceiling like a
Devil's rain. Horrible screams echo from the other side.
Don't fight it. It's your own mind.
It's your own fears.
Flashes of light and dark storm over JACOB's head,
thundering like a war in the heavens. It is a scene of raw
power and growing catastrophe. It builds in fury and rage
until suddenly the ceiling explodes. JACOB's eyes stare into
the formlessness expanding around him. All space is becoming
a dark liquid void.
Gradually the liquid grows bluer, clearer. There is an
undulating sense to the imagery, a feeling of womb-like
comfort. Strange lights appear and sparkle before us like
sunlight on the ocean. JACOB is rushing upward, toward the
With the delirious sound of water giving way to air, JACOB
breaks through. To his amazement, he finds himself floating
out-stretched on shimmering sunlit water. Above him are
clouds of such wondrous beauty that they cannot possibly be
of the earth. Pillars of golden light reach down from the
heavens creating a cathedral of light. It is a vision of
heaven, a vast, almost mythic paradise. JACOB is awed.
A sudden movement catches his attention. He looks over and
sees MICHAEL standing before him. Only MICHAEL looks
different. His face seems to radiate an inner light, a
transcendental beauty. JACOB is nearly blinded by his
presence and must shield his eyes to look at him.
So, how you doin'?
The casualness of the words catches JACOB by surprise. He
sits up. To his shock and amazement, he finds that he is
back in THE HOTEL ROOM. MICHAEL is standing at the foot of
the bed. JACOB is totally disoriented. His eyes move slowly
around the room, taking everything in. He doesn't speak.
It was better than you expected, huh?
JACOB just stares at him for a while and then suddenly
begins to laugh. It is a huge laugh, full of energy and
And no more demons. I told you they'd
I don't believe this. It's a miracle,
Michael. A miracle.
Better living through chemistry,
that's my motto.
EXT. GREENWICH VILLAGE - DAY
JACOB and MICHAEL are walking through the STREETS OF
GREENWICH VILLAGE. It is early MORNING and the sidewalks are
bustling with PEOPLE. JACOB stares into their faces and
beams when they smile back. MICHAEL enjoys JACOB's
EXT. WASHINGTON SQUARE - DAY
JACOB and MICHAEL walk through WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK.
It was paradise, Michael. You showed
it to me. You were there.
Well that's good to know.
Mike, it was real. It was glorious.
Glorious. I'm not surprised. I fed
you enough of that stuff to send a
horse to heaven. I'm just glad you
I would have stayed there if I could.
I'm sure. You've got nothing but
troubles waitin' for you here.
He points to two POLICEMEN on the far side of the SQUARE.
(taking JACOB's arm)
EXT. GRAMERCY PARK HOTEL - DAY
The TWO MEN head up to GRAMERCY PARK and stop in front of
the GRAMERCY PARK HOTEL. Reaching into his wallet, MICHAEL
pulls out a huge stack of credit cards and hands one to
Here. I've got every credit card ever
printed. Take this. Stay here till
you can arrange to get away. It's on
No. I couldn't.
What? You want the Plaza? Don't be
foolish. Here. Take this, too.
(he pulls out a business
This is my place on Prince Street.
It's got my phone, everything. Call
if you need me ... but you won't.
Everything's gonna work out. You just
get outta town as fast as you can.
The New York police can be effective
when they want to be.
I don't know what to say.
Save the words ... Just send back my
MICHAEL laughs, hugs JACOB, and walks away.
INT. HOTEL ROOM - DAY
JACOB is in a lovely MOTEL ROOM overlooking GRAMERCY SQUARE.
He is sprawled out happily on the bed when there is a knock
at the door. He jumps up and opens it. JEZZIE is standing
there. She looks at JACOB quizzically. He smiles and takes
her in his arms, swinging her into the room.
What are you doing here? Are you all
right? How do you expect to pay for
Everyone's looking for you, Jake. I
dodged people all over the place,
reporters, police. I don't know what
you're gonna do.
I'm gonna make love to you. That's
what I'm gonna do.
Are you out of your mind?
Yep. Finally. I love you, Jez.
God, I can't keep up with all your
What's gotten into you?
CUT TO JACOB and JEZZIE lying in bed gently caressing one
another. For all his ardor JACOB is exhausted from the
events of the preceding day. While stroking JEZZIE's hair he
begins to fall asleep. JEZZIE crawls on top of him and
shoves her hand down his pants. JACOB smiles.
DISSOLVE TO JACOB and JEZZIE making love.
DISSOLVE TO JACOB and JEZZIE lying in front of the T.V.
watching a romantic movie. JEZZIE snuggles up to JACOB.
It's amazing, you know, that a drug
could change things like that,
destroy a life and then give it back.
It's hard to believe that the world
could be so hellish on day and like
heaven the next.
I tell you, it was so wonderful. I
felt like a little boy. I saw
It's so hard to believe.
There is a knock at the door. JACOB throws on a bathrobe.
JEZZIE jumps under the sheets.
It's your dinner, sir.
JEZZIE's eyes brighten. JACOB opens the door. A BELLBOY
wheels in a table set for dinner. He sets it in a corner of
the room. JEZZIE jumps out of bed, runs to the table, sniffs
at the food, and squeals excitedly.
This is one of my dreams, Jake. Ever
since I was a little girl. I never
thought it would happen.
Stick with me, kid.
DISSOLVE to JACOB and JEZZIE sitting next to a large window
overlooking GRAMERCY PARK. They are sipping champagne.
I want to go with you, Jake. Wherever
It's not practical, Jez. It'll be
hard enough alone.
I can waitress. I'm good.
No. Things are too hot. Later. I'll
send for you.
No. I'm a marked man, Jez. I'm the
only one left. I don't want to expose
you to that. It's not right for you
or me. Be reasonable.
Reasonable? Reasonable? Jake ...
You're gettin' me angry.
I love you when you're angry.
(her eyes twinkle
Try leavin' without me.
JACOB laughs. JEZZIE doesn't. Unexpectedly she grabs JACOB
and pushes him onto the bed. In seconds they are all over
each other, their clothes flying in all directions. They
seem as happy as could be.
INT. GRAND CENTRAL STATION - DAY
JACOB enters GRAND CENTRAL STATION. He checks out all the
PEOPLE around him. Not a DEMON in sight. Hurrying to the
TICKET WINDOW he gets in line. The TICKET SELLER looks up.
Chicago. One way. For tomorrow.
That'll be $119.75.
JACOB pulls out MICHAEL's credit card. The SELLER rings it
up. While he is waiting JACOB notices a POLICEMAN looking at
him. The stare unsettles him. The SELLER hands JACOB his
ticket. He takes it and hurries into the CROWD. Looking back
he notices the POLICEMAN is following him.
INT. MEN'S ROOM - DAY
JACOB enters the MEN'S ROOM. He hurries into one of the
stalsls, drops his pants, and sits. He eyes the graffiti on
the walls and then notices a wad of tissue stuffed into a
hole between him and the next stall. It is moving. Suddenly
the tissue falls to the floor. JACOB glances at the hole
curiously and leans forward to examine it. He is shocked to
see an eye staring back at him.
(he covers it with his
hand. A pencil jabs his
palm. He yells)
Two lips form around the hole. A tongue wags obscenely.
The mouth is gone. JACOB hears the stall door fly open and
feet running from the room. He jumps up and grabs his pants.
He dashes out of the MEN'S ROOM. He hears footsteps and
chases after them.
INT. GRAND CENTRAL STATION - DAY
JACOB bursts into the MAIN TERMINAL. He sees someone rushing
toward the main doors and speeds after him. HOMELESS PEOPLE,
huddling along the corridors, watch as they run past.
Escaping to the street, the MAN disappears in the holiday
throngs. JACOB, crazed, stands gasping for breath. His fists
dig into his coat pocket. Suddenly he feels something and
seems surprised when MICHAEL's CARD emerges in his hands.
INT. SOHO LOFT BUILDING - EVENING
JACOB runs up the stairs in a SOHO LOFT BUILDING. It is a
dingy, industrial staircase, poorly lit. He reaches a door
with MICHAEL's name painted on it in large black letters. He
knocks loudly. There is no answer. He pounds on it. Another
door opens on the floor above. A head sticks out.
You lookin' for Mike?
Where is he?
Don't know. Hasn't picked his mail up
in days. It's not like him.
JACOB has a frenzied look in his eyes. He searches around
the staircase and sees a pile of lumber stacked in a corner.
He grabs a two-by-four and lunges at the door.
What the hell are you doing?
JACOB doesn't answer. He smashes wildly at the door until
the lock flies open.
INT. MICHAEL'S LOFT - EVENING
JACOB charges into the dark space groping for a light. He
finds it. The LOFT is a disaster area. Nothing is standing.
JACOB runs from room to room. In the back he discovers a
large private chemistry lab. Glass vials and bottles are
shattered on the floor.
JACOB rifles through the cabinets. A few bottles are intact
but their labels mean nothing to him.
He reaches for one cabinet and notices a reddish liquid
oozing out from the bottom. He opens it. MICHAEL's severed
head stares him in the face. It is smiling.
A scream rings out as the MAN from upstairs sees what JACOB
has seen. JACOB jumps back, trips, and falls over MICHAEL's
headless body. It is lying sprawled across the floor.
Oh my God!
JACOB stumbles to pull himself up. He is in a state of
unrelieved panic. He runs past the MAN and spills out the
doorr. He takes two and three stairs at a time, nearly
flying to the street.
EXT. SOHO STREETS - NIGHT
JACOB rushes into the icy air and runs wildly down the
sidewalk as fast as his legs will move. With unexpected
violence he charges into the side of a building. Over and
over he hurls himself against it. He grabs for the bricks.
His fingers insert themselves into the crevices. It is as
though he is trying to merge with the wall.
Suddenly JACOB turns and dashes into the street. A taxi is
speeding toward him, its lights the only sign of life and
warmth in the dark night. JACOB steps into its path. It is
hard to tell if he is trying to stop the cab or waiting to
be hit. The taxi screeches to a halt. JACOB stares at it a
moment and then steps to get in. The DRIVER tries to pull
off but JACOB yanks at the door and drags himself inside.
INT. TAXI - NIGHT
Rain is beginning to fall. It streaks the windows.
I'm going to Brooklyn.
Sorry, Mac. Not with me you're not. I
get lost in Brooklyn.
I know the way.
JACOB reaches into his pants pocket, pulls out a twenty
dollar bill, and hands it to the DRIVER. He takes it.
Look, this is all the money I've got
in the world. Take me home and it's
... Where's your home?
CUT TO THE TAXI heading down WEST BROADWAY, approaching the
BROOKLYN BRIDGE, crossing the EAST RIVER, and driving
through dark BROOKLYN STREETS.
JACOB's face passes in and out of dense shadows. Every time
he is bathed in light his image seems to alter. Something in
him is falling away.
EXT. SARAH'S APARTMENT BUILDING - NIGHT
JACOB gets out of the TAXI and approaches the LOBBY of
SARAH'S APARTMENT BUILDING. JACOB is greeted by the DOORMAN.
Dr. Singer. It's been a long time.
(greeting him warmly)
Are you all right?
Do you want some help? I can call
No, don't. But thanks.
INT. HALLWAY - NIGHT
JACOB stops in front of the APARTMENT door and reaches his
hand underneath a section of the hallway carpet. It comes
back with a key. He inserts it into the lock and gently
opens the door. He calls out.
Hello. It's me.
INT. SARAH'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
Some lights are on. The APARTMENT looks comfortable and
Hello? Is anybody home? Jed? Eli?
There is still no answer. JACOB is surprised. He peers into
the dark LIVING ROOM and then walks to the KITCHEN. No one
is around. A photo of JACOB, SARAH, AND THEIR BOYS is
sitting on the counter. He picks it up and carries it with
him through the apartment. He walks into his old BEDROOM and
then into the BOYS' ROOM. The beds are still unmade. There
is no one home. He sees his image in the BATHROOM mirror and
turns away in disgust. He walks back to the LIVING ROOM. He
is about to switch the lights on when he hears footsteps
coming down the hall. He calls out.
Sarah, is that you? I hope you don't
mind. I needed to come home.
JACOB is startled to see JEZZIE enter the room. She does not
seem he usual self. She appears larger, more imposing.
Hello, Jake. I knew you'd come here
in the end.
JACOB is nervous.
What're you ... ? Where's Sarah?
Where are the boys?
Sit down, Jake.
Where are they?
No! What's going on? Where's my
It's over, Jake. It's all over.
Where have they gone?
Wake up. Stop playing with yourself.
JEZZIE stares at JACOB with a frightening, powerful glare.
The edge of her coat rustles and flutters as she moves
toward him. It is an innocent sound at first, but after a
moment it transforms into something else, an obsessive
flapping noise, the sound of a wing.
JACOB's body feels the first waves of an inner tremor. His
legs are shaking.
What's going on?
Your capacity for self-delusion is
remarkable, Dr. Singer.
JEZZIE begins walking around the dark living room as she
talks to him. Something about her walk is very unnatural.
JACOB eyes her fearfully.
In the darkness JEZZIE's movements become increasingly
strange and elusive. We see her pass before a shadow and
disappear within it, only to reappear, seconds later, in a
doorway on the other side of the room. JACOB spins around,
confused. Suddenly JEZZIE is inches from his face, although
it seems like there has been no time for her to get there.
Her movements are totally impossible, defying all logic, all
What's wrong, Jake?
(she mocks him)
Forget to take your antidote?
Who are you? What are you doing to me?
You have quite a mind, Jake. I loved
your friends. That chemist - the
Ladder. What an imagination you have!
And your vision of paradise ...
fantastic! You're a real dreamer, you
know that? Only it's time to wake up.
JEZZIE has disappeared in the darkness of the room. Only the
sounds of flapping wings remain. They grow louder and more
menacing, whooshing past him with no visible source.
Your mind is crumbling, Jake. No more
"army." No more conspiracies. You're
dying, Dr. Singer. It's over.
JACOB, frightened, turns toward the door as if to hurry out.
Where's to run, Jacob? Where's to go?
JACOB pauses a moment and then turns to confront the terror
WHO ARE YOU?
How many times have you asked me
that? How many times?
TELL ME, DAMN YOU!
(with consummate power)
YOU KNOW WHO I AM.
JEZZIE appears from the shadows. Her coat collar obscures
her and it seems for a moment that she has no face. Then, to
JACOB's horror, she turns around. He is staring at the
vibrating creature he has seen so often before. Glimpsed
almost in abstraction it is a living terror, dark and
undefinable. Its face is a black and impenetrable void in
constant vibration. Its voice is an unspeakable demonic cry,
the essence of fear and suffering. JACOB pulls away from it,
overhwelmed by confusion. He is rooted in fear.
A sudden wind howls through the room, great gales blowing
JACOB's hair straight up. It is like a hurricane pushing him
into the wall. He can barely stand. He struggles to pull
himself away. The flapping sound returns, charging at him
from all directions. It is as if the darkness itself is
swooping down, trying to envelop him.
(whispering to himself)
This isn't happening.
New terrible sounds arise, chain saws slashing through the
air, knives, and sabers ripping through space with
unrelenting anger. Guns fire and explode past his head. It
is as though all the sounds of destruction are closing in on
him. JACOB yells but his own voice is lost in the melee.
Terrified, he looks heavenward, as if crying for help.
Suddenly, from the noise, a calm voice rises, speaking, as
if from a distance. It is LOUIS. JACOB is shocked to hear
him. He stands motionless.
If you're frightened of dying you'll
see devils tearing you apart. If
you've made your peace then they're
angels freeing you from the world.
The voice fades. JACOB just stands there, not sure what to
do. And then the sounds return. Only now they are more
terrifying than ever. Hideously loud, they become a
cacophony of sounds, voices of parents, friends, lovers, the
sounds of battle, fighting, and dying.
JACOB looks up and sees the creature in the center of the
room. All the sounds seem to emenate from it. The more JACOB
stares at it the louder they become. After a moment, JACOB
takes a huge breath. We sense a great resolve forming inside
him. Then, slowly, courageously, he begins moving toward it.
NEw and more terrifying noises assault JACOB, attempting to
drive him back, but he will not be stopped. He continues
walking toward the creature.
In the hallway a standing lamp slams sparking to the floor.
It rolls back and forth like a living thing, with a
maddening hypnotic regularity. Doors slam open and closed,
unlatching, snapping, shutting, with deafening force. The
room itself seems like an organic presence. It is alive,
angry, and threatening.
The CREATURE sits in the midst of the insanity like the
source of madness itself. It writhes, contorts and vibrates
with unstoppable fury. JACOB, terrified, but unrelenting,
continues to approach it.
AS THE CAMERA DRAWS CLOSER TO THE CREATURE'S HEAD the
density of its featureless form overwhelms the screen. It is
like staring into emptiness itself, the ultimate darkness.
With superhuman effort JACOB grabs hold of the creature. It
is like grabbing hold of a live wire. His body begins
shaking uncontrollably like a man being electrocuted. He is
flying in all directions but does not let go. His fingers
claw at the creature's head. JACOB struggles defiantly with
Suddenly a terrible voice emerges from within it.
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU'RE FIGHTING!
JACOB does not respond. It cries out again.
WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE
Deep inside the darkness JACOB begins to make out the
presence of a form, something writhing and tortured lurking
before us. It looks briefly like an animal until we realize
it is the image of a human face. It is covered by a dark
suffocating film, like a mask.
JACOB digs into it with all his might and pulls it off.
DEAD SILENCE as JACOB SEES HIS OWN FACE staring back at him
from beneath the mask. It is JACOB SINGER as we first saw
him on the battlefield in Vietnam. Only now his image is
pale and lifeless. It takes JACOB a moment to realize that
he is dead. The recognition is one of terrible confusion and
pain. JACOB stares at himself for a long time as a huge cry
wells up inside him. It bursts forth with devastating
As that instant the whole of space seems to explode in a
flash of catacylsmic power. Hundreds of images from JACOB's
life flash before us, his birth, his childhood, his
adulthood. The demons, the room, JEZZIE, LOUIS, MICHAEL,
SARAH, all seem to assail us in a rush of blinding
We are flying over a landscape of memories, zooming across a
constantly changing field of images. Some of the images
move, some of the people in them speak. They are not
particularly significant memories, in some ways they are
quite banal, but something about them is infused with life
and joy. Even the painful moments resonate with vital force.
Some of the moments we recognize from the time we've spent
with JACOB. Some we have not seen before. There is no order
to them, no logic to why they have been recalled.
A newborn baby takes its first breath and screams. SARAH
pulls clothes off a clothes line on a rainy day. JACOB's
FATHER stands in the Florida surf as sea foam laps gently at
his legs. PAUL, FRANK, and JACOB play cards on the edge of a
rice paddy. GABE rides his bike into the path of an oncoming
car. A child puts his ear next to a bowl of cereal,
listening to it talk. A young girl standing in a doorway
lifts up her blouse to show her new breasts. JACOB and SARAH
slice a wedding cake that topples to the floor. JEZZIE looks
at JACOB and asks "Love me a little?"
And then it is over. Total silence overwhelms the screen, a
wonderful soothing calm. JACOB's eyes open and he is shocked
to find himself sitting on the floor in SARAH's apartment.
He is all alone. The first rays of early morning sunlight
are filtering through the window. Something about the
apartment seems transfigured, magical. JACOB sits
motionless, stunned to be back there.
The faint sound of music can be heard coming from the
hallway. It is warm and familiar, the tinkling of a music
box. JACOB listens to it for a few moments and then
something registers inside him. Curious, he gets up and
approaches the corridor.
There is no response. Suddenly the music stops. JACOB
freezes for a moment. He sees someone standing in the
shadows at the other end.
Who is it? Who's there?
Tentatively JACOB moves forward. As he draws closer he
begins to see the outline of a child. Then, all of a sudden,
he realizes who it is. His eyes well up as he stands there,
the full impact of the moment registering inside him. It's
his son, GABE. He is carrying the same musical lunch box we
have seen before. The young boy smiles warmly at his father.
It is the smile of an angel. JACOB swallows hard.
JACOB runs to his son. Unable to hold back the tears, he
embraces him in a rush of love and emotion.
Gabe. Oh God. I don't believe ...
They hug one another over and over. JACOB, overcome, sits
down on the stiars. After a moment GABE puts his arm around
his father's shoulder in a gesture of surprising maturity
and compassion. We sense for an instant that their roles
have reversed. GABE reaches for JACOB's hand and gently
encourages him to stand up.
With a sweet tug GABE leads his father up the steps.
Sunlight streams down from the top of the stiars, hitting
the first landing. GABE is bathed in its warm glow. As JACOB
reaches the landing, he too is surrounded by the comforting
GABE hurries up the last set of stairs. JACOB turns to
follow but is stunned by the brilliance of the light pouring
in from above. Squinting, he cannot see his son. Then
suddenly GABE steps back out of the light and takes his
father's hand once more. His eyes sparkle with excitement.
Come on Dad ... You know what we've
got? A sandbox just like the
Williston's, only it's bigger and the
sand's all white. You won't believe
JACOB smiles at his son. GABE smiles at him. It is a moment
of total euphoria. THE CAMERA HOLDS as they continue up the
And my parakeet. Remember, the one
grandma let out of the cage? He's
okay. And he's talking now. He knows
GABE's voice slowly trails off as he and his father
disappear in the intenstity of the light. THE CAMERA HOLDS
on the image. For a brief but stunning moment there appears
to be a huge ethereal staircase shimmering before us. It
rises up into infinite dimensions. Then the brilliance of
its blinding light overwhelms the screen.
Suddenly the brightness condenses into a smaller light
source. It holds for a second and then flashes off. An
overhead surgical lamp remains stubbornly in view.
INT. VIETNAM FIELD HOSPITAL - DAY
A DOCTOR leans his head in front of the lamp and removes his
mask. His expression is somber. He shakes his head. His
words are simple and final.
CUT TO JACOB SINGER lying on an operating table in a large
ARMY FIELD TENT in VIETNAM. The DOCTOR steps away. A NURSE
rudely pulls a green sheet over his head. The DOCTOR turns
to one of the aides and throws up his hands in defeat.
AN ORDERLY wheels JACOB's body past rows of other DOCTORS
and NURSES fighting to save lives. A YOUNG VIETNAMESE BOY
pulls back a screen door to let them out of the tent. It is
a bright, fresh morning. The sun is rising.