12 Monkeys – Hallucinations

The Transition to Adulthood

The truth is that a lot of these hallucinations occurred during my early childhood and then in later adolescence, but some of them followed me about and popped up unexpectedly in the future. Not long after my 18th Birthday, I found myself in Sycamore Ward, an acute care unit for the mentally ill. It was tucked away in the grounds of the Royal United Hospital, in Combe Park, Bath. This section was my first time in an adult unit, and I was terrified, so much so that I screamed and begged to be allowed home, but they just ignored me.

Life as an Adult

In the end, they told me I was disturbing other patients and forcefully injected me with sedatives. I became even more distressed when I awoke because Dad had driven up with my things, but they refused to let him in the ward. They told him I was still asleep. Poor dad had to drive back to Swindon without seeing me at all. This place was so depressing. There were over twenty beds in this ward for people with mental health problems like mine, some with learning disabilities, substance misuse and god only knows what else. All were mulling about like zombies: it was hard to tell who, including staff, they never wore NHS badges and always hung around. To make matters worse, I was distracted by two other things smoking and listening to moaners outside.

We waited for meals in a long queue, served from a tiny hatch in the wall. And I often chatted in the garden with a few other like-minded patients. They, like me, enjoyed an extended smoke break. And, we were always late, so we had to eat the leftovers or whatever scraps they could find.

Home Again

At home, I searched for films that might appeal to me. Maybe there would be one with a mental health theme or one set in a hospital. It wasn’t long before I found The Twelve Monkeys. It’s a kind of sci-fi intervention of scientists who send someone, James Cole (Bruce Willis), back in time to help them find a cure for a deadly virus that destroys most of the world’s inhabitants. The virus, a colourless, odourless vapour in major American cities. The group responsible for this called themselves, The Twelve Monkeys, led by Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt).
We watched the film on our television in the living room, and I remember my dad joining me with a tin of beer in his hand. He watched the movie from beginning to end and so must have seen everything that I saw. That’s the thing. I never really changed, It was the same old me, and I wasn’t cheating on my meds. No matter what I did or whatever dad said, the hallucination I describe below stands firm. It is a memory, hidden under the surface; it is accurate.

The Hallucination


We watched the movie, and it was only during the final scene that the hallucination became apparent-the police shoot Cole (Bruce Willis) at the airport. Instead, I saw the younger version of Cole appear with a black gun.

Because the time traveller Cole had been travelling back in time, he met his younger self at the airport. The younger version of himself was there alright, but he appeared slightly different. Whoever the young actor was, his hair had gone from black to bright blond, and his skin had gone from its standard colour to deeply tanned. He was still recognisable as the younger version of Cole, but instead of the police shooting Cole, his younger version shot and killed him.

The Calvin Klein Conspiracy

Okay, so you probably saying by now that this was just a deleted scene or an alternative ending. Believe me; this is part of what I call The Calvin Klein Conspiracy. It’s niggled me ever since. Like Darth Vader marching around in Lord of the Rings: Two Towers – you know, when you hallucinate, It’s sheer lunacy but captivating too.

Attempt to Capture Hallucinations

Toward the end of 2015, I spent a lot of time searching for the missing scene where his younger self shoots Cole.

I checked different online sources, DVDs and Video including VHS. It was just a little scene at the film’s end, and I searched and searched in vain.

But now I noticed something else; there was an old fashioned answering machine in the underground of the future world. Upon a table, there was a distorted message playing. But I swear to god that this doesn’t usually occur until later in the film.

I used software on the computer to capture what I was seeing. I still have the computer, but I deleted the contents through frustration. All I needed to do was use recovery software, but now I’ve left it too late. Part of me wanted to use software and to capturing the hallucination and prove to the world that it was real.


The Obsession Returns

This obsession came back to haunt me in 2016; I just had to discover the truth. Admittedly, I suffered a relapse and landed back in a PICU unit (intensive care for mental illness) in Salisbury. But on returning home, whilst watching the film on my laptop, I noticed the shooting appear as it did in my original hallucination. But it wasn’t consistent; I had to keep rewinding the tape back and forward to see it. When dad came down, I rewound the video, and the scene had vanished.

When I left the hospital in 2019, the staff in Swindon came round to check on me. ‘What’s the date?’ one of the staff members asked.

‘1996 is the past.’ I said. They smile. ‘If I could just make one telephone call.’ I said.

But of course, I’m always free to make telephone calls and the mental health team have a good sense of humour.

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