12 Monkeys

David Peoples, Janet Peoples

POET: Still among the myriad microwaves, the infra-red messages, the gigabytes of ones and zeroes, we find words, infinitesimally small, byte-sized now, tinier even than science lurking in some vague electricity where, if we listen we can hear the solitary voice of that poet telling us,

"We are no other than a moving row
Of Magic shadow-shapes that come and go
Round with the Sun-illumined Lantern hold
In Midnight by the Master of the show."

Omar Khayyám
The Rubáiyát

"The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it."

Omar Khayyám
The Rubáiyát

"Yesterday This Day's Madness did prepare;
Tomorrow's Silence, Triumph or Despair:
Drink! for you know not whence you came, nor why:
Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where."

Omar Khayyám
The Rubáiyát

BILLINGS: Jeffrey. Yo! Jeffrey. This here is James. Whyncha show James around? Tell him the TV rules, show him the games an' stuff, okay?

JEFFREY: How much you gonna pay me? Huh? I'd be doing your job.

BILLINGS: Five thousand dollars, my man. That enough? I'll wire it to your account as usual, okay?

JEFFREY: Okay, Billings. Five thousand. That's enough. Five thousand dollars. I'll give him the Deluxe Mental Hospital Tour.

COLE: I need to make a telephone call.

JEFFREY: A telephone call? That's communication with the outside world! Doctor's discretion. Hey, if alla these nuts could just make phone calls, it could spread. Insanity oozing through telephone cables, oozing into the ears of all those poor sane people, infecting them! Whackos everywhere! A plague of madness.

In fact, very few of us here are actually mentally ill. I'm not saying you're not mentally ill, for all I know you're crazy as a loon. But that's not why you're here. Why you're here is because of the system, because of the economy.

There's the TV. It's all right there. Commercials. We are not productive anymore, they don't need us to make things anymore, it's all automated. What are we for then? We're consumers. Okay, buy a lot of stuff, you're a good citizen. But if you don't buy a lot of stuff, you know what? You're mentally ill! That's a fact! If you don't buy things...toilet paper, new cars, computerized blenders, electrically operated sexual devices...


JEFFREY: Seriously, more and more people are being defined now as mentally ill. Why? Because they're not consuming on their own. But as patients, they become consumers of mental health care. And this gives the so-called sane people work!


TJ WASHINGTON: Don't mock me, my friend. It's a condition of "mental divergence". I find myself on another planet, Ogo, part of an intellectual elite, preparing to subjugate barbarian hordes on Pluto. But even though it's a totally convincing reality in every way...I can feel, breathe, hear...nevertheless, Ogo is actually a construct of my psyche. I am mentally divergent in that I am escaping certain unnamed realities that plague my life here. When I stop going there, I will be well. Are you also divergent, friend?

JEFFREY: You know what "crazy" is? "crazy" is "majority rules". Take germs for example.

COLE: Germs?!

JEFFREY: In the 18th century there was no such thing! Nobody'd ever imagined such a thing -- no sane person anyway. Along comes this doctor...Semmelweiss, I think. He tries to convince people... other doctors mostly...that there are these teeny tiny invisible "bad things" called germs that get into your body and make you...sick! He's trying to get doctors to wash their hands. What is this guy...crazy? Teeny tiny invisible whaddayou call 'em?..."germs"!

So cut to the 20th century! Last week in fact, right before I got dragged into this hellhole. I order a burger in this fast food joint. The waiter drops it on the floor. He picks it up, wipes it off, hands it to me...like it was all okay.

"What about the germs?" I say. He goes, "I don't believe in germs. Germs are just a plot they made up so they can sell you disinfectants and soap!"

RAILLY: According to the accounts of local officials at that time, this gentleman, judged to be about forty years of age, appeared suddenly in the village of Wyle near Stonehenge in the West of England in April of 1162. Using unfamiliar words and speaking in a strange accent, the man made dire prognostications about a pestilence which he predicted would wipe out humanity in approximately 8OO years. Deranged and hysterical, the man raped a young woman of the village, was taken into custody, but then mysteriously escaped and was not heard of again.

In 1841, Mackay wrote, "During seasons of great pestilence, men have often believed the prophecies of crazed fanatics, that the end of the world was come." Obviously, this plague/doomsday scenario is considerably more compelling when reality supports it in some form, whether it's the Bubonic Plague, smallpox, or AIDS. In addition to these "natural" contagions, there are now technological horrors as well: besides radiation, consider our lurking fear of germ warfare and its close approximation, chemical warfare, which first reared its ugly head in the deadly mustard gas attacks during the First World War.

During such an attack in the French trenches in October, 1917, we have an account of this soldier who, during an assault, was wounded by shrapnel and hospitalized behind the lines where Doctors discovered he had lost all comprehension of French but spoke English fluently, albeit in a regional dialect they didn't recognize. The man, although physically unaffected by the gas, was hysterical. He claimed he had come from the future, that he was looking for a pure germ that would ultimately wipe mankind off the face of the earth in the year... 1995!

Although seriously injured, the young soldier disappeared from the hospital before more data could be gathered. No doubt, he was trying to carry on his mission to warn others, substituting for the agony of war...a self-inflicted agony we call the "Cassandra Complex".

Cassandra, in Greek legend you will recall, was condemned to know the future but to be disbelieved when she foretold it. Hence, the agony of foreknowledge combined with impotence to do anything about it.

RAILLY: Where... where are we going?

MAN: I need you to drive me to Philadelphia.

RAILLY: But that's... that's more than 200 miles!

MAN: That's why I can't walk there.

COLE: My notes. Observations. Clues.

RAILLY: Clues? What kind of clues?

COLE: A secret army. The Army of The Twelve Monkeys. I've told you about them. They spread the virus. That's why we have to get to Philadelphia. I have to find them -- it's my assignment.

RAILLY: What will you do...when you find this... secret army?

COLE: I just have to locate the virus in its original form before it mutates. So scientists can come back and study it and find a cure. So that those of us who survived can go back to the surface of the earth.

RAILLY: Oh, Jesus, James! You killed him!

COLE: I did him a favor. Now come on.

JEFFREY: What are you talking about? What friend? I'm not expecting anyone.

AGENT #3: Normally if we caught a guy sneaking around like this with no I.D., we'd bust his ass, excuse the French, but this one said he knows you... and, since you seem to have had some...uh...unusual...uh..."associates", we certainly didn't want to arrest one of your, uh, closest... pals.

JEFFREY: Never saw him before in my life. Go ahead and shoot him or torture him or whatever it is you do.

COLE: You do know me. You helped me once.

JEFFREY: That would be totally out of character. Helping people is against my principles.

See, he definitely doesn't know me. Now, I'm going to go back and listen to my father's very eloquent discourse on the perils of science WHILE YOU TORTURE THIS INTRUDER TO DEATH.

COLE: I'm here about some monkeys.

JEFFREY: Excuse me -- what did you say?

COLE: Monkeys. Twelve of them.

JEFFREY: Arnold... Arnold. My God, Arnie, what's happened to you? You look like shit

AGENT #3: You know this man?

JEFFREY: Of course I know him. What do you think -- I act like this to strangers?

RAILLY: For God sakes, Owen, listen to me -- he knew about the boy in Fresno and he says three billion people are going to die!

DR. FLETCHER: Kathryn, you know he can't possibly know that. You're a rational person. You're a trained psychiatrist. You know the difference between what's real and what's not.

RAILLY: And what we believe is what's accepted as "truth" now, isn't it, Owen? Psychiatry -- it's the latest religion. And we're the priests -- we decide what's right and what's wrong --we decide who's crazy and who isn't. ... I'm in trouble, Owen. I'm losing my faith.


FALE: Your psychiatrist? Did you just say, "your psychiatrist"?

JEFFREY: Ex-psychiatrist! Now, what about flashlights? How many flashlights...?

FALE: That woman is... was... your... psychiatrist? And now she's spray-painting our building?

JEFFREY: WHO CARES WHAT PSYCHIATRISTS WRITE ON WALLS? You think I told her about the Army of the 12 Monkeys? Impossible! Know why, you pathetically ineffectual and pusillanimous "pretend-friend-to-animals"?! I'll tell you why: because when I had anything to do with her six years ago, there was no such thing -- I hadn't even thought of it yet!

FALE: Then how come she knows what's going on?

JEFFREY: Here's my theory on that. While I was institutionalized, my brain was studied exhaustively in the guise of mental health. I was interrogated, x-rayed, studied thoroughly. Then, everything about me was entered into a computer where they created a model of my mind.

Then, using the computer model, they generated every thought I could possibly have in the next, say ten years, which they then filtered through a probability matrix to determine everything I was going to do in that period. So you see, she knew I was going to lead the Army of the Twelve Monkeys into the pages of history before it ever even occurred to me. She knows everything I'm ever going to do before I know it myself. How about that?

COLE: I want to be here. In this time. With you. I want to become...become a whole person. I want this to be the present. I want the future to be unknown.

JEFFREY: What virus are we talking about, Dad?

DR. MASON: You're insane, Jeffrey.

JEFFREY: You "develop" viruses and you're calling me insane? Typical. What does this virus attack? Don't tell me, you sick fuck, it doesn't matter.

Have I ever "developed" a virus? Do I put helpless animals in cages and measure their reactions to electrical stimuli? Do I inject radioactive substances into living creatures and examine their bowel movements? Wow! And I'm crazy!

DR. MASON: Please tell me, Jeffrey, what exactly are you going to do? I don't have to tell you I'm afraid.


COLE: I have seen it, but I don't remember this part. Funny, it's like what's happening to us, like the past. The movie never changes -- it can't change -- but everytime you see it, it seems to be different because you're different -- you notice different things.

RAILLY: If we can't change anything... because it's already happened, then we ought to at least smell the flowers.

COLE: Listen, I don't know whether you're there or not. Maybe you just clean carpets. If you do, you're lucky -- you're gonna live a long, happy life. But if you other guys exist and you're picking this up -- forget about the Army of The Twelve Monkeys -- they didn't do it. It was a mistake. Someone else did it. The Army of The Twelve Monkeys are just dumb kids playing revolutionaries. It was someone else! I've done my job. I did what you wanted. Good luck. I'm not coming back!