Bruce Joel Rubin
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
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
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-
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
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
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 again.
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
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 her.
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
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 sight.
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 disbelief.
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 support.
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
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 total bewilderment.
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 screams.
Fuck off! Mind your own business!
A THIRD MAN spins out of the shadows, pointing a kinfe at JACOB's
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 is white.
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 his APARTMENT.
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
(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 shower together.
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 delight.
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
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 fire below.
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
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
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. JACOB
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 yelling.
I found one. He's alive.
He shines a flashlight into the lens creating rings and halos.
CHIROPRACTIC OFFICE - DAY
Suddenly LOUIS reappears, a halo effect still visible behind his head.
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 blasphemous.
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 her paper.
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
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 speaks.
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 exhausts
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
Hey! You can't go in there!
JACOB doesn't stop. A POLICEMAN, guarding the entrance, runs after him.
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
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 him intently.
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 is drawn.
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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 and sweating.
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 around.
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 agitation.
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 KITCHEN.
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
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 again instantly.
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
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
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 vigorously.
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 is GABE.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 speeds by.
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
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
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 direction.
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 urinal.
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
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 is gone.
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
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
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 intimate, conversation.
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 floor.
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 floor.
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 two men.
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
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
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 short.
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 turns away.
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 DRIVER's command.
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 the streets.
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 immobilized.
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.
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 darkness.
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 hospital bed.
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 and
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 screaming.
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 room.
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 spine
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 cherub.
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 door.
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
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 crowd.
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 move.
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 lungs.
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. SOMEONE yells.
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 all.
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
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 JACOB's abdomen.
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
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 vial.
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
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 surface.
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 life.
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
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 JACOB.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 cozy.
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
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 physical laws.
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. "JEZZIE"
Where's to run, Jacob? Where's to go?
JACOB pauses a moment and then turns to confront the terror behind him.
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
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
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 the monster.
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
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
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 light.
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
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 stairs.
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
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
"JACOB'S LADDER" (DELETED SCENES)
Bruce Joel Rubin
ADDENDUM 1: PROFESSOR STERN
INT. CITY COLLEGE LECTURE HALL - DAY
CUT TO a huge ampitheatre-style LECTURE HALL at CITY COLLEGE. It
is almost empty. No more than FORTY STUDENTS are scattered near
the front of nearly three hundred seats. All are listening to
PROFESSOR EMANUEL STERN who is nearing the end of his lecture.
Thus at the core of today's discu-
sion we find four fundamental doc-
trines. First, that the world of
matter and individual consciousness
are both manifestations of one Divine
One of the STUDENTS seems about to fall asleep and keeps nodding
Even you, Mr. Palmer, are part of it,
as amazing as that may seem.
MR. PALMER sits up quickly in his seat as other STUDENTS smile.
Second, human beings are capable not
only of kowledge about this Divine Re-
ality by inference but can realize
its existence by direct intuition,
superior even to reason.
A door opens in the upper reaches of the lecture hall. JACOB
enters and walks quietly down the stairs to within hearing range
of the professor.
Third, man possesses a double nature,
an ego and an eternal self, what we
call "spirit" or "soul."
JACOB takes a seat at one of the desks. There is a pencil lying
on it which he fingers distractedly.
Fourth, and most important, man's
life on earth has only one end and
purpose, to learn to let go of the
separate ego and to identify with the
Divine spark within.
MR. PALMER is nodding off again.
Almost impossible to believe, isn't
it Mr. Palmer, that somewhere in that
unconscious head of yours lies the
source of all consciousness?
Yes, Sir. Very hard.
(nodding his head)
Well now, having reached this
apotheosis there seems little, if
anything, left to say. So rather than
try, you are dismissed.
The STUDENTS seem surprised but not unhappy with the sudden
dismissal. They quickly gather their books and begin the long
climb to the exits. Only JACOB remains seated.
PROFESSOR STERN looks up and stares at KACOB for several seconds
before recognizing him.
My oh my. Doctor Singer. Isn't this a
JACOB comes down the aisle and clasps hands with his old
(looking at JACOB's uni-
Are you in the service?
The postal service. I'm a mailman.
(surprised but non-
Ah. Neither snow nor sleet, nor dark
of night ... I always admired that.
It's good to see you.
EXT. CITY COLLEGE - DAY
JACOB AND PROFESSOR STERN walk down the city streets that
constitute the CAMPUS of CITY COLLEGE.
And how is your wife? Sarah, no?
(shrugging his shoul-
I haven't seen her in months.
I'm with another woman now. We're
both with the post office, Midtown,
34th Street branch.
Hmm. I don't suppose there are too
many philosophers in the post office?
Oh, you'd be surprised. They just don't
have their doctorates, that's all.
Last I heard you were offered a posi-
tion in the West somewhere. Tuscon
Oh, that goes way back. They had a
hiring freeze, one of those last min-
ute things. Bad timing for me though.
Middle of the war. The draft.
(STERN nods his head.
They walk a moment in
I'll tell you Prof, after Viet Nam
... I didn't want to think anymore. I
decided my brain was just too small
an organ to comprehend this chaos.
(looking at JACOB with
Jacob, if it was any other brain but
yours, I might agree.
Tell me, does your lady friend know
what a brilliant thinker, what a sub-
lime intellect she's living with?
I doubt it's my mind that interests
her. I tell you Prof, she's a fiery
(with a fatherly
Well, try not to get burned. You have
a great mind, Jacob. Don't let anyone
tempt you away from it.
INT. OFF CAMPUS COFFEE SHOP - DAY
JACOB and PROFESSOR STERN are sitting at a quiet table in a
nearly empty coffee shop. They are both fixing cups of tea, not
speaking. Suddenly JACOB looks at STERN.
I've got a problem, Prof. More Augus-
tine than Kierkegaard, if you know
what I mean.
(STERN looks at him
I need to know about ... demons.
Demons, Jacob? Why demons? Are you
writing ... ?
(he pauses a moment)
I see them.
(he smiles uncomforta-
What do you mean? Physically?
STERN pauses. He looks at JACOB. The intensity of his gaze is
unsettling and JACOB reaches for his tea. The cup rattles.
I know very little about demons, Ja-
cob, fleshy ones anyway. I know them
as literary figures, biblical ones
... Dante, Milton ... but Jacob,
this is the 20th Century. We don't
see demons now.
I see them, Prof. Everywhere. They're
invading my life.
A look of concern fills STERN's eyes.
Christ, I know how it sounds.
Have you considered a doctor? A psy-
I don't want them. I'm not looking
for analysis or drugs. It's too easy
to dismiss as some kind of psychosis.
(he pauses uncomforta-
It's more than that. I can feel it. I
need you Prof. You're the only one I
can talk to.
I don't know what to say.
I need your insight, your intuition.
STERN sips his tea slowly. He is thinking.
Demons? I don't know what to tell
you. It sounds like a spiritual mat-
ter to me. The problem, Jacob, is
that you have no context for it.
You're a renegade Existentialist suf-
fering demons a hundred years after
Freud. How the hell am I supposed to
make it fit?
I'm afraid, Prof. Nothing makes
Please help me.
(trying to be delicate)
Jacob, I don't believe in demons, not
in the empirical sense. I don't be-
lieve in devils fighting for our
souls. I don't believe in enternal
damnation. I don't believe in other-
worldly creatures tormenting us. We
don't need them. We do a good enough
job on ourselves.
But I see them.
Look. I don't pretend to know what's
going on inside your head. For all I
know it's pathological and they
should be pumping Valium into your
veins by the quart. But if you're not
willing to accept the help of sci-
ence; and believe me, I admire you
for that: then you'll have to do bat-
tle on your own. What can I say? It's
a lonely pilgrimage through our times
even for the strongest souls. But to
be pursued by ... demons no less ...
There are no guides, Jacob.
You wanna know what I'd do if I sud-
denly started seeing demons? I'd hail
the first taxi that came along, shoot
over to Bellvue and beg them for
shock treatment. I'm no saint.
Hell, you think I am?
I'venever understood you, you know
that? You were by far the best pupil
I've ever had, bar none. Intellectu-
ally, you were the most original, the
most imaginative. Who knows, maybe
you've been "elected" to see demons.
Maybe you're in touch with ... some-
thing. Nothing would surprise me
about you Jacob. Nothing.
JACOB gazes at his old friend and mentor, frustration blazing in
his eyes. They are both surprised to see tears form and run down
his cheek. JACOB reaches for a napkin and dries them quickly.
STERN, uncomfortable in the face of emotion, turns away.
ADDENDUM 2: THE PARTY AT DELLA'S
Suddenly a strange and terrifying spectacle unfolds before him.
The DANCERS undergo a shocking transformation, a full three-
dimensional alteration of their physical forms. Clothes fuse to
their bodies like new skin. Horns and tails emerge and grow like
exotic genitalia, exciting a frenzy among the DANCERS. New
appendages appear unfolding from their flesh. Dorsal fins
protrude from their backs. Armored scales run in scallops down
their legs. Tails entwine sensuously. Long tongues lick at the
undersides of reptilian bellies. The metamorphosis holds a
biological fascination. Bones and flesh mold into new forms of
life, creatures of another world.
CUT TO JACOB's face as it registers terror and disbelief. He
stares at the DANCERS. They are perverse, corrupt aspects of
their normal selves. He is mesmerized by JEZZIE. Her flesh has
grown hard and wrinkled and has the markings of a snake. Her
tongue, long and curled, darts in and out of her mouth
repeatedly. Her eyes are thin and domineering. They lock JACOB in
their gaze. He wants to stop, to run, but JEZZIE won't release
JACOB grabs his eyes as though trying to pull the vision from
them but it won't go away. The music throbs. His actions become
spastic, almost delirious. His hysteria attracts the attention of
the other DANCERS.
A circle forms around JACOB and JEZZIE as their frenzy transcends
the boundaries of dance and erupts into an almost orgiastic
display. JACOB is out of control. His fury becomes a kind of
exorcism, a desperate attempt to free himself from his body and
CUT TO JACOB 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 large
cloud. The faces are looking down and voices are speaking.
He's burning up.
He'll never make it.
That's some gash. His guts keep
Push 'em back.
His eyes focus on the moon. Rings of light emanate 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 produce a dazzling, almost sensual, surge of
color. The display is spectacular and compelling. A voice can be
heard in the distance.
I think we're losing him.
Suddenly the flickering rings begin to define a tangible image, a
kind of CELESTIAL STAIRCASE, rising up into infinite dimensions.
As we speed toward it, it grows increasingly majestic. The image
is so awesome and other-worldly that it is difficult to grasp
what is being seen.
Music can be heard in the distance. It too is celestial in its
beauty. Then, unexpectedly, it grows hard and insistent, like a
heartbeat. Heavy breathing accompanies the sound. The image of
the STAIRCASE shatters and disappears, replaced by intense
flashes of red and blue light. The music grows louder and reaches
a thundering crescendo. Then silence.
ADDENDUM 3: JACOB'S LIVING ROOM
INT. JACOB'S LIVING ROOM - DAY
CUT TO APPLAUSE from a real television game show as JACOB
switches channels on the LIVING ROOM T.V. He stops on an
interview program, turns up the sound, and runs to the BATHROOM.
The CAMERA stays on the television. JACOB can be heard urinating
in the distance.
MAC HAYES, a young, virile, and smug REPORTER is speaking.
The Reverend Norman Murphy, leader of
one of the largest groups supporting
the Armageddon Committee, told our
cameras that we are no longer dealing
in decades but years.
THE REVEREND fills the T.V. screen.
The battleground is being readied.
Our planet is the battlefield. Our
souls are the prize. All the signs
point to the inevitable confrontation
between the forces of good and evil.
People must choose sides. There is no
draft evasions in this war. All are
called. All must take up weapons. Are
you prepared? That's the question we
The toilet flushes and JACOB walks back into the LIVING ROOM and
turns down the sound.
Do you find people scoffing at you,
Reverend? After all, there have been
doomsayers for thousands of years and
we're still here.
People are less apt to laugh these
days. The prophecies are too close
for comfort. I mean, all you have to
do is watch the news.
There are some who claim that your
pessimism is defeatist and what the
world needs now is hope, a positive
I think the time for hope has passed.
The seeds have been planted. We shall
reap what we've sown.
Pessimists, no. I think we are
percieved as the only realists
Other movement leaders agree. In an
Suddenly the telephone rings. It startles JACOB. He jumps. It
rings again. He reaches down, turns off the T.V., and picks up
the phone. His eyes continue to stare at the blank screen as he
ADDENDUM 4: JACOB'S BEDROOM
INT. JACOB'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
THE BEDROOM is dark. JACOB and JEZZIE are making love. A half-
smoked joint is smouldering in an ashtray by the bed. JEZZIE is
poised on top of JACOB and his eyes are focused on her face.
A hurricane lamp casts a warm glow over their bodies. Its
flickering light plays games with JACOB's eyes and for a moment
JEZZIE seems to disappear. JACOB reaches out for her breasts and
his hands seem to vanish into the shadows dancing across her.
With sudden, hallucinogenic impact, JACOB feels himself drawn
into a starry universe opening from inside her.
THE CAMERA plunges through her image into a galxy of stars and
rushes toward one that is twinkling brightly. Pulsations of its
light whiten the screen. Out of the whiteness appears a momentary
flash of the CELESTIAL STAIRCASE, accompanied by sounds of sexual
The STAIRCASE sparkles for an instant and then it's gone. The
sparkle becomes a glimmer in JEZZIE's eye as her face fills the
screen. She looks especially lovely and radiant. Her image moves
with the lamplight.
JACOB's face is ecstatic. He can barely talk and simply basks in
JEZZIE's glow. Slowly, she leans forward and whispers in his ear.
So tell me ... am I still an angel?
(he strokes her hair)
You transport me, you know that? You
carry me away.
ADDENDUM 5: DEMON IN THE WALL
INT. JACOB'S APARTMENT - DAY
JACOB is sitting in a comfortable chair in his living room. He is
reading. The room is dark, lit only by a reading light. The walls
are mostly in shadow. The light, however, falls on one section of
the wall, a portion that has been lined in fake wood paneling.
JACOB's eyes suddenly lift off the page and roam over the wood
grain on the wall. All of a sudden he notices something strange,
an image in the grain. He stares at it. The more he stares the
more precise its definition. The image of a DEMON appears in the
JACOB sits up quickly and stares at the walll. It is impossible
to get the DEMON's image out of the grain. It seems etched, even
imbedded, in the paneling.
JACOB looks away and returns to his book. He is reading about
archetypes and the primordial mind. But the book does not hold
his attention. He is obsessed with the wall. Its molecules seem
suddenly active, the wood grain suddenly animate. Layers begin to
appear in the surface of the wall as the grain patterns slowly
define a rocky, barren landscape.
The DEMON is growing solid. Cries and screams rise up in the
distance. Flames and a red glow emanate from the space extending
rapidly into the wall. The image of Hell erupts before him.
JACOB stands up. He can see bodies suffering beyond the wall,
masses of PEOPLE wailing and enduring the torments of a fiery
world. The DEMON's arm slowly extends from the plane of the wall
and reaches into the room. He is huge, covered in flames and
skulls, a living horror. He grabs hold of JACOB and pulls him
toward the wall. JACOB tries to back away but he cannot. His face
is white with fear. The DEMON draws JACOB toward the inferno.
(yelling at the top of
Suddenly JEZZIE appears, the light from the BEDROOM flooding the
paneled wall. The DEMON vanishes instantly.
Jake, are you all ... ?
She stops dead in her tracks.
CUT TO JACOB pressed up against the wall, defying gravity and
logic, as though about to merge with the solid surface. His body
holds there for a moment and then collapses to the floor. JEZZIE
goes to him.
He doesn't answer. He looks at JEZZIE with a blank stare. His
body begins shaking.
INT. JACOB'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
JACOB is lying on the bed, curled up in a fetal pose. JEZZIE is
stroking his hair and trying to calm him.
It's going to be all right, Jake.
It's going to be all right. Don't be
afraid. I've got you now.
Hold me, Jezzie. Hold me.
JEZZIE wraps herself around his shivering body and warms him with
her own. The image seems tender and comforting until we notice
JEZZIE's tongue darting nervously in and out. It looks strangely
like a snake's.
ADDENDUM 6: THE HOSPITAL
The RESIDENT injects the serum into JACOB's veins while two
ORDERLIES hold him still. JACOB barely struggles. His eyes fixate
on the EMERGENCY ROOM WALL. It is white and sterile. Within
moments it begins to emit a reddish glow. JACOB watches with
astonishment as the wall's two-dimensional surface separates into
three-dimensional planes. The solid surface gives way to a DARK
CHAMBER that was not there before.
Out of the transmuted space CREATURES begin to form. Bosch-like
DEMONS with horns and tails, undeniably of another world. Slowly
several of them emerge from the wall and approach JACOB. They
look like parodies of doctors and nurses, wearing traditional
hospital gowns. Without a word they wheel him through the space
where the wall had been. JACOB tries to scream but no sound comes
INT. HELL - NIGHT
The DARK CHAMBER is filled with mournful CREATURES being led by
DEMONS through a series of CORRIDORS. No one fights or struggles.
JACOB's stretcher is moved through the darkness. He tries to sit
up but is forced back down. He is obviously drugged.
JACOB is wheeled into a tiny CHAMBER. A number of DEMONS are
waiting for him. Chains and pulleys hang from the ceiling. They
are lowered and attached with speed and efficiency to JACOB's
arms and legs. The devices are manipulated smoothly and JACOB is
lifted off the stretcher. The chains retract, stretching him
spread-eagle in the air. He screams loudly.
The DEMONS laugh. There is the sound of a huge door closing.
JACOB is left in darkness. The darkness is hallucinogenic. Fires
appear beyond the boundaries of the wall; images of Dante's
Inferno, souls of the dead in endless torment. JACOB is but one
of countless beings sharing a vastness of torment. His own
screams for help are lost in the magnitude of voices crying.
Suddenly, out of the meancing shadows, a contingent of DEMONS
emerges. They are carrying sharp surgical instruments. They
surround JACOB, their eyes glistening as bright as their blades.
JACOB is panting and sweating with fear. For an instant, one of
the DEMONS looks like JEZZIE. JACOB calls out to her.
Jezzie! Help me!
The DEMONS laugh as she changes form. 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.
ADDENDUM 7: JACOB'S BEDROOM
INT. JACOB'S BEDROOM
JACOB is lying on the floor of his BEDROOM doing exercises for
his back. He has several days' growth of beard and does not look
well. His mind is drifting and only the occasional pain in his
back reminds him of what he is doing. JEZZIE can be heard
vacuuming the carpet in the LIVING ROOM. Suddenly the door swings
open. The wail of the vacuum cleaner causes JACOB to tense. His
eyes drift down from the ceiling. JEZZIE vacuums around him and
seems insensitive to his presence.
JEZZIE shoves the vacuum cleaner under the bed and hits
something. JACOB tightens. She looks and is shocked to discover a
can of gasoline and boxes of kitchen matches. It takes her a
second to understand the implications of what she has found.
JACOB is ready when she begins yelling.
You're completely off your rocker,
you know that? You'd think you fell
on your head instead of your back.
What are you planning to do, burn
down the apartment along with your
She begins to remove the gasoline can.
Don't you touch it.
(he glares at her)
JEZZIE lets go of the can and grabs the vacuum. She moves it
furiously across the carpet. Suddenly JACOB sees her tongue
darting in and out, unconsciously. She looks strange, not human.
JACOB freezes. He yells out.
Who are you?
The sound of the vacuum cleaner drowns out his voice. He yells
again. JEZZIE sees him and turns off the machine. His voice booms
Who the hell are you?
JEZZIE ignores the question and turns the vacuum cleaner back on.
JACOB rolls over and pulls out the plug.
Why won't you answer me?
Cause you know goddamn well who I am.
I don't know you.
You've lived with me for two years.
That doesn't mean shit. Where do you
come from, huh? And I don't mean
What do you want me to say? My
You know goddamn well what I mean.
You're out of your fucking mind. I'm
not gonna stand around here gettin'
interrogated by you.
Well leave then. Go to Hell.
You son-of-a-bitch. Who do you think
you are? I don't deserve this. Who
takes care of you day and night? Who
cleans the floor and washes your
goddamn underwear? Well, I've had it.
You flip out on your own, you
ungrateful bastard. I'm done holding
your hand. I don't want anything to
do with you, you hear? Nothing!
She storms out of the room, kicking the vacuum cleaner as she
goes. JACOB can see flashes of her through the open crack of the
bedroom door. Occasional curses and epithets hurl through the
opening along with a flood of tears.
JACOB catches glimpses of her as she grabs her coat from the hall
closet and as she pulls her money out of the desk drawer. He can
see the lamp as she shoves it to the floor and hears it shatter
as she stomps on it with her foot. There is a blur as she heads
to the front door and a deafening bang as she leaves.
JACOB's eyes drift up to the ceiling. They hardly blink. He
stares at the plaster, chipped and cracked, above him. Suddenly
the cracks begin to move. JACOB jumps up. A DEMON is
materializing over his head. JACOB yells and grabs hold of the
extension pole for the vacuum cleaner. With a furious cry he
begins jamming it at the ceiling. Rather than blot out the
evolving image his attack helps to define it. JACOB slams harder.
Plaster and wood lath cover the floor. The DEMON is gone. Panting
hard, JACOB reaches for matches and the gasoline can. He stops
and stares at them with great intensity.
ADDENDUM 8: THE ANTIDOTE SEQUENCE
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,
Suddenly the ceiling erupts in violent clashes as whole chunks
break off and collide with one another like continental plates.
The collisions 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.
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
Matter atomizes instantly. Trillions of particles hurl
chaotically in all directions. The walls shatter into a dazzling
brightness. For a moment there is a sense of intense forward
movement, a rush toward oblivion. And then, suddenly, it stops.
There is absolute quiet and stillness.
JACOB's eyes stare into the formlessness sparkling around him.
All space has become a shining void. Gradually faint pastel
colors appear like colored molecules, dancing and spinning,
redirecting space into new formations. They weave patterns of
intricate complexity and stunning beauty.
As the colors grow brighter and more vivid their abstraction
gives way to solid form. A GARDEN SCENE emerges. It is a GARDEN
OF LIGHT, a vast, almost mythic, Rousseau paradise. It radiates
an intense shimmering light.
JACOB's eyes are cpativated by the vision before him. A sudden
movement catches his attention. He looks up and notices MICHAEL
still standing beside him. MICHAEL, however, is rapidly changing
form. It is a full, plastic, three-dimensional metamorphosis. His
very flesh seems to expand and glow with its own inner light. His
face shines and radiates an almost transcendental beauty.
JACOB is nearly blinded by MICHAEL's presence and must shield his
eyes to look at him. MICHAEL smiles an extraordinary and joyous
smile that radiates such intense luminosity that JACOB has to
squint to see it.
Suddenly MICHAEL steps off the ground. He rises into the air and
floats above JACOB. JACOB can barely breathe as he watches him.
MICHAEL rises into a sky filled with orbs and blazing lights. The
lights shine on JACOB's head. He effervesces and shimmers in
One of the orbs sends a burst of light exploding over JACOB. So
intense is the light that JACOB grabs his eyes. As he opens them
again he sees that the GARDEN is fading back into pure light.
MICHAEL, too, is fading.
Another burst of light and the GARDEN is reabsorbed by the void.
Only the brightness remains. It is many seconds before we realize
that the HOTEL ROOM is coming together, reconstructed by the
light. In moments it is fully formed. Sunlight is pouring through
the window. MICHAEL is sleeping lightly in a chair. He hears
JACOB stare and sits up.
JACOB is sitting on the bed. He does not seem to know where he
is. His eyes are filled with awe. They move slowly around the
room, taking everything in. He doesn't speak. MICHAEL gets up and
sits beside him. He respects his silence.
ADDENDUM 9: HOTEL ROOM
INT. HOTEL ROOM - DAY
JACOB enters the HOTEL ROOM. JEZZIE is already there watching the
evening news. She is still in her postal uniform, lying on the
bed. She taps the mattress, inviting JACOB to lie next to her. A
WOMAN is crying to a REPORTER on the T.V.
It's been four days. No word. It's
not like him. He's never done any-
thing like this before. It's like he
just disappeared from the face of the
The Bureau of Missing Persons is con-
founded by the continuing surge of
JACOB snaps off the T.V.
What'd you do that for? It's an in-
teresting story. All these people are
still disappearing. Right off the
(staring at JACOB)
Hey, what's wrong? Are you all right?
I'm okay. I just don't want to lis-
You look upset.
I'm not upset.
Jake, what is it?
You look terrible. What happened?
(he turns away. She
stares at him for a mo-
Jake ... is it the antidote?
Goddamn it. Why do you say that?
Look at yourself. You look like
you've seen a ghost.
Shit! Can't I just have a bad day?
You can have anything you want.
Then don't bug me.
I'm not bugging you. Come and lie
down. I'll give you a massage.
(she taps the mattress
again and JACOB joins
her. She unbuttons his
Where'd you go today?
Oh yeah? What was happenin' there?
(looking away from her)
I picked up my ticket.
I'm leaving in the morning, Jez.
Where you going?
Where's West? New Jersey?
Don't be funny.
I always liked the West, west of Il-
linois anyway. But you gotta give me
time to pack.
Stop it, Jez. Don't do that.
Do what? I haven't done a thing.
Don't play games with me. There's
nothing more to say.
There is a quiet rage building in JEZZIE's eyes as she continues
to stroke JACOB's chest. He tries to relax and give himself over
to the movement of her hand. Silently she leans over and begins
licking his stomach. JACOB's eyes close. His stomach hardens. He
reaches back and adjusts the pillow beneath his head. Slowly,
JEZZIE works her way back up to his chest. Her tongue darts in
and out suggestively. He eyes are burning with anger. Her mouth
poises itself over his nipple. She toys with it for a few seconds
and then chomps down hard. The bite draws blood.
JACOB screams. His eyes shoot open. For the flash of an instant
he sees a DEMON hovering over him, a hideous horned creature
licking his blood. JACOB flies off the bed as the creature hurls
to the floor. JACOB is ready to pounce on it when he sees that it
is JEZZIE lying at his feet. His head begins reeling. He backs
away from the bed, not taking his eyes off JEZZIE for a second.
He backs to the closet and grabs his coat.
Jake. What are you doing? Look, I'm
sorry, I didn't mean to bite. Let me
get you a towel.
JACOB grabs his wallet and his glasses. He backs toward the door.
Jake, don't. You can't leave. You're
not seeing things clearly. The drug's
She stands up and begins to approach him. JACOB lifts up a desk
chair and holds it in front of him. Blood is running down his
Jake, don't leave me!
JACOB throws the chair at the floor, opens the door, and hurries
into the HALLWAY. JEZZIE scurries around the chair and runs to
the door. She yells after him, but he is already gone.
ADDENDUM 10: THE END OF THE MOVIE
INT. HALLWAY - NIGHT
JACOB stoops 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.
Hello. It's me.
INT. SARAH'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
The lights are on and the APARTMENT looks comfortable and cozy.
Hello? Is anyone home? Jed? Elie? Dad-
There is still no answer. JACOB is surprised. He walks into the
LIVING ROOM and then the KITCHEN. No one is around. He walks into
his old BEDROOM and then the BOYS' ROOM. He is surprised to hear
footsteps coming down the hall. He turns around and 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
to be her usual self. She seems larger, more imposing.
Hello, Jake. I knew you'd come here
in the end.
JACOB is nervous.
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. Her
lips snarl. Her tongue begins darting in and out, only now it is
not a nervous habit but a conscious act. JACOB's body feels the
first waves of an inner tremor. His legs are shaking.
What's going on?
JEZZIE smiles at him. Her tongue wags and suddenly shoots from
her mouth beyond human extension. JACOB recoils.
(whispering to himself)
This isn't happening.
Your capacity for self-delusion is
remarkable, Dr. Singer.
JEZZIE's head begins to tighten and squeeze, as though she is
suffering from cramps. JACOB watches in horror as her skull gives
birth to pointed horns.
What's wrong, Jake?
(she mocks him)
Forget to take your antidote?
(smiling and then
I loved your chemist, Jake. The
height of fantasy. And your vision of
(she laughs with a hu-
A most romantic creation. You're
quite a dreamer, Jake. Only it's time
to wake up.
JACOB's eyes are locked on JEZZIE. His mouth is wide open. His
body is shaking badly. He tries to back away from her but his
legs barely move.
There is nowhere to run, Jacob.
Suddenly the pictures on the wall crash to the floor. Plaster
from the ceiling breaks off in huge chunks and slams to the
carpet. Light bulbs and lamps explode. JACOB runs to the door. He
pulls it open and screams. He is on the edge of a fiery abyss.
JEZZIE laughs with a new intensity of demonic force. JACOB spins
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.
Suddenly JEZZIE reaches for her tongue and pulls at it with all
her might. It is an act of total, unrelieved grotesqueness. With
each yank the horror grows as JEZZIE literally pulls herself
inside out before JACOB's eyes.
The emerging creature is JEZZIE transfigured, a demonic presence
beyond anything we have seen before. It is black and covered with
a thick oozing slime. Its head, still recognizable as JEZZIE, is
rodent-like, with piercing green eyes and terrible horns
protruding from its brow. Its powerful arms have long spiked
claws. Its feet are cloven hooves. Extending from its back is a
long, thick, muscular tail that whips around the room with
devastating force. It throws furniture crashing through the air.
A sudden cracking sound emerges from the DEMON's back. Dark forms
penetrate the air. JACOB is breathless as huge wings unfold and
spread out to the living room walls. The sound of their flapping
is deafening. The walls shatter from their blows. As they crumble
darkness appears on the other side. There are no other rooms. The
VOID envelops them. The INFERNO emerges in all directions. The
(with JEZZIE's voice)
Still love me, Jake?
(it laughs and reaches
out to him)
CUT TO JACOB's face. He has gone beyond fear. An intensity of
rage is building in him that we have not witnessed before. His
whole image seems transformed by it. He glows like a volcano
before it erupts.
Suddenly he explodes. The full fury of the Ladder detonates
inside him. He yells at the DEMON with all his might.
With a power and energy of devastating force he attacks the
DEMON. JACOB is battling for his very soul and tears at the DEMON
with an animalistic fury that takes it by surprise. Its giant
wings flap furiously, lifting them both up off the floor. JACOB
keeps fighting. He claws, bites, and rips at the wings,
decimating their delicate fabric.
The DEMON, shocked, and trying to gain control, crashes up
through the last fragments of the ceiling. JACOB does not let go.
They burst into the fiery darkness. The room crumbles beneath
them and disappears into the void.
The abyss opens beneath them. JACOB continues his attack. His
legs are locked around the DEMON's waist. His hands dig into her
eyes. The DEMON shrieks and surges downward with awesome
The DEMON charges into a rocky slope, smashing JACOB into its
cliffs. JACOB claws at her wings, shredding as much of them as he
can reach. The DEMON takes a huge chunk out of JACOB's arm. JACOB
screams, grabs a rock, and shatters the DEMON's teeth. The DEMON
falls to the ground. JACOB holds on.
All of a sudden the DEMON begins to shrink. JACOB is shocked and
struggles to contain it. As it dwindles in size it reorders its
shape. Within seconds a powerful INSECT is cupped in his hands.
JACOB tries to crush it but it stings with such force that
JACOB's entire body recoils. The stinging persists. JACOB hurls
himself to the ground on top of his arms to hold the CREATURE
down. So massive is the INSECT's attack. however, that JACOB's
whole body heaves off the ground with each sting. Then the
attacks subside. JACOB waits for the next blow.
Suddenly JACOB's body shoots straight up. His hands fly apart as
a new life form erupts between them. He holds on tightly as flesh
and blood mold and expand between his fingers. The new body takes
rapid shape. It is a CHILD. JACOB grasps it with all his might as
it completes its identity. He is horrified when he sees it. It is
You're hurting me!
Daddy. Let go.
What do you want from me?
JACOB does not let up. In an instant his SON explodes into a
gelatinous form, constantly undulating and changing shape. Within
its translucent mass a new body is forming. JACOB stares at it
with growing terror. It is himself. A terrible perplexity fills
JACOB's eyes as he struggles to dig in and destroy his own image.
He recoils as his own voice calls out to him.
Who the Hell do you think you're
The words shock him and for the first time, he lets go.
Instantly the image disappears and the jelly-like mass dissolves
into an oily liquid rapidly encircling his feet. JACOB looks down
at the shallow pool spreading out beneath him. Its surface
reflects a smoky, unearthly light.
JACOB gazes into the darkness. He is all alone. The quiet
overwhelms him. The only sound is his own breath. He looks
around, in all directions, but can see nothing. The CAMERA holds
on him as he stands waiting for the next assault, but nothing
comes. He is left only with his anticipation and with hinself. He
stares at the terrible darkness.
A subtle phospheresence begins to glow in the liquid beneath
JACOB's feet. He steps away from it, but it follows his movement.
Suddenly, as if by spontaneous combustion, it bursts into flames.
JACOB screams and tries to run but the flames move with him,
lapping at his legs. He cannot escape them. As far and as fast as
he runs the fire is with him. He yells and cries and screams as
the fire eats at his lower limbs. He falls and jumps back up
again, his hands charred. His eyes grow wild.
Oh God, help me.
Instantly the flames roar and engulf him. It is total
conflagration. JACOB's skin blisters and turns black. His flesh
crackles. Writhing in pain he runs through the flames but can
find no freedom from his suffering.
All at once JACOB stops running. He throws his hands up into the
burning air and stands motionless, in absolute agony. It is a
gesture of total submission and surrender to forces beyond
himself. His flesh bubbles and chars but something is suddenly
quiet inside him.
Through the flames JACOB's dark form can be seen as it slowly
sits down, like a Buddhist monk, in the midst of the holocaust.
He appears a figure of sudden nobility as the flames annihilate
Gradually the fire dies. JACOB's body, his flesh like a charred
and brittle shell, sits motionless, beyond pain. An orange glow
from the embers of his body slowly fades, leaving him in the
The SCREEN stays dark for as long as possible. Then, slowly, an
eerie light appears in an unfamiliar sky. It backlights JACOB,
revealing his silhouette. The CAMERA dollies slowly toward him.
It approaches the burned and unrecognizable remains of JACOB's
face. It is the face of death. The CAMERA holds on the image.
Suddenly, with shocking impact, JACOB's eyes move. Within the
crumbling shell of a body something is still alive, still
conscious. The eyes survey the darkness and the first stirrings
of a new light.
It is dawn. JACOB's dark remains are suffused by a preternatural
glow. Slowly, huge orbs begin to appear on the horizon. JACOB's
eyes open to the growing light as they seek out the familiar in
the still dark lansdcape. Gradually the orbs begin their ascent
like a thousand suns rising at the same time. JACOB's eyes widen
as his new world stands revealed. He is sitting in a GARDEN OF
LIGHT, the Rousseau paradise he has visited once before.
A sudden burst of light fills the sky directly overhead. The
vegetation around him is instantly illuminated with its soft
glow. Like a gentle breeze MICHAEL descends from the light and
stands radiant before JACOB. He smiles and the air itself seems
to brighten. MICHAEL quietly approaches JACOB's body.
I am with you, Jacob.
JACOB stares at him through dark eyes with a mixture of awe and
(speaking with a gentle
It's all right now. It's over. You've
won. You're here.
(JACOB stares at him
reaches out his hands)
Softly MICHAEL places his hands on top of JACOB's head and begins
to peel at the charred flesh. Layer by layer he strips it away.
Then, with an unexpected gesture, he rips away a whole section
with one quick pull. A BLAZE OF LIGHT bursts through the gaping
hole in JACOB's head and beams into the air around them. It is an
Come on. Don't make me do it all.
(his eyes sparkle)
(JACOB's eyes are burst-
ing with wonder)
You can do it.
Slowly JACOB begins to stir. He moves feebly at first, like an
old man. His black flesh creaks and cracks and through each
sudden fissure another beam of light blasts out with laserlike
Stop hobbling. Your flesh can't hold
JACOB nods in response and takes a huge, gigantic breath. His
lungs expand and suddenly all the old flesh bursts from his body
as a radiant being of light breaks through beneath it. JACOB
stands transfigured, filled with his own luminosity. His face is
like a child's as he stares in amazement at his own hands,
glowing with light.
MICHAEL directs JACOB's vision to the sunrise. It is majestic,
almost Biblical in its grandeur. Great rays of light penetrate
vast cloud formations and descend into the GARDEN. Slowly the
clouds, as if orchestrated by some higher power, begin to part. A
massive light complex emerges from behind them. JACOB watches,
awestruck, as the CELESTIAL STAIRWAY stands revealed. It reaches
down from unknown heights, radiating an infinite power and grace.
It touches down far in the distance, hovering over many acres of
teh GARDEN. JACOB's eyes are filled with its splendor. MICHAEL
looks at him and nods.
Go on, Jacob. It has come for you.
JACOB cannot speak. His eyes are fixed on the STAIRWAY dazzling
him from afar. He can see ANGELIC FORMS moving up and down it.
Suddenly, as if transported by light itself, he feels himself
floating up into the air. He looks down upon EDEN sparkling below
him. His mouth is wide open as he soars above it.
The light pulsating from the STAIRWAY is brilliant and thrilling.
JACOB's own inner light intensifies as he approaches it. The
STAIRWAY grows increasingly wondrous as we draw nearer. It pulls
JACOB toward it.
STREAMS OF ANGELS enter the STAIRWAY like a fast flowing river.
It carries them instantly within its current up beyond the
visible reaches of the glittering sky. Billowing clouds glow in a
parade of colors and the starry heavens seem to part as the
STAIRWAY reaches beyond all known dimensions.
JACOB stares at the light that is about to absorb him. It is a
moment of total euphoria. He surges into the stream as the
brilliant light of the STAIRWAY overwhelms the screen.
Slowly the brightness of the screen condenses into a smaller
light source. An overhead surgical lamp remains stubbornly in
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 VIET NAM. The DOCTOR steps away. A NURSE rudely
pulls a green sheet up over his head. The DOCTOR turns to one of
the aides and throws up his hands in defeat.
TWO ORDERLIES wheel 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.