1 EXT. SCHOOL – DAY 1

LEVI [18], carrying a guitar, walks towards the car where his mother, CHARLOTTE, [late 30s] is waiting for him in her car.

2 INT. CAR – DAY 2

Levi gets in the car. Charlotte drives away.

LEVI
So, how’d it go?

She gaily looks at Levi as he talks to JACK [late 40s] on the phone.

LEVI (CONT’D)
(talking on the phone) No, dad, you should’ve seen like–I was like– like literally, they were speechless.

JACK (O.S.)
Ha ha. You’re kidding. You sure this isn’t like the last time where you played the wrong piece and thought. . .

Levi bursts out laughing. Charlotte looks at him.

CHARLOTTE
What?

Levi covers the phone’s speaker and responds.

LEVI
The Bloomingdale audition.

Charlotte laughs.

LEVI (CONT’D)
No, no dad. You gotta believe . . .  Hello? Hello?

Levi sighs.

LEVI (CONT’D)
It think it got cut.

Levi gets on his phone.

CHARLOTTE
So? How’d it go?

LEVI
It went well. Really well, actually.

CHARLOTTE

          Good.

LEVI

It’s just that… I don’t know.

Levi hesitates.

          CHARLOTTE

What?

LEVI

I just . . . I don’t . . .I don’t really think going to college is even like the right path for me, you know? I don’t think it’s the key to my future, and with the tuition . . .

CHARLOTTE
Wait, what are you trying to say?

LEVI
I’m not trying to say anything. (pause)
I’m just trying to figure out the best way forward.

CHARLOTTE
And what do you think that is?

LEVI
I don’t know, just . . .

He takes a moment to think.

LEVI (CONT’D)
Just recording my own stuff, or try getting gigs, meet people who are actually interested in music . . .

Charlotte slams the brakes in the middle of the street.

CHARLOTTE
Levi. I want you to make it. Unlike me.

LEVI
Mom . . .  I didn’t mean it like . . .

CHARLOTTE
It- It’s just that it requires a good work ethic and a lot of commitment. The world’s too competitive. What can you bring to it that nobody else can?

Levi remains silent.

CHARLOTTE (CONT’D)
Knowing that, is that something you’re ready to fight for?

LEVI
With everything I’ve got. I’m not gonna stop until I make it.

Charlotte acknowledges the poised look on Levi’s face.

CHARLOTTE
Then I’ll support you with everything I have got.

Charlotte smiles.

CRASH!

CHARLOTTE (CONT’D)
One for all and . . .

LEVI
All for one.

A car comes crashing into Charlotte’s car.

3 INT. LIVING ROOM – MORNING 3

FADE IN: TITLE: ‘THE MIND WHISPERER’

TEXT SUPERIMPOSE; ‘2 MONTHS LATER’

Levi stirs awake, reliving the accident. He has visible scars on his face and a bandage on his head. He looks at Jack, who is packing moving boxes labelled ‘MOM’.

He flings two red pills in his mouth and rests his head back again.

JACK
Levi. Earth to Levi?

Levi looks at Jack.

JACK (CONT’D)
I was going through mum’s stuff and I found this CD. It’s something we were planning to show you on your birthday.

Jack hands him the CD.

JACK (CONT’D)
But, it’s better if you see it now.

Jack leaves. Levi looks at the disk eagerly.
He plays the CD. Charlotte appears on the screen.

A HOMEMADE VIDEO STARTS PLAYING. JACK IS SHOOTING CHARLOTTE, WHO IS HIDING SOMETHING BEHIND HER BACK.

CHARLOTTE
Is it on?

JACK
Wait . . . yes.

CHARLOTTE
Alright, pickle, I have a present for you. It’s something that you have always wanted.

Jack interrupts.

JACK
Wait, is the red light supposed to be blinking?

CHARLOTTE
Yeah honey, just hold the camera still. (beat) Your dad and I have a present for you. It’s something that you have always wanted.

Charlotte pauses before revealing the present.

LEVI
I only want you.

CHARLOTTE
Okay . . . so . . .

Charlotte tries to find the beginning to her sentence. Levi mistakes it as the answer to his last statement. Intrigued, he leans in towards the screen.

CHARLOTTE GETS CLOSE TO THE CAMERA AND WHISPERS.

CHARLOTTE (CONT’D)
But first, you’ve to wake up.

The video starts glitching, splitting Charlotte’s face into multiple screens: All echoing only one thing: ‘WAKE UP’.

4 INT. LEVI’S BEDROOM – NIGHT 4

Levi wakes up in shock, drenched in sweat. Confusion washes over his face. He takes long, strident breaths.

He turns on the lamp on his nightstand. A SHAFT OF LIGHT falls onto his face as he holds his head in his hands.

An unnatural silence fills the room. Beat.

A STRANGE FIGURE MOVES PAST THE DOORWAY.

Levi quickly looks up. His eyes scan the darkness. He moves cautiously from his bed towards the doorframe. He steps out to witness a sliver of light coming from under the bathroom door. Levi takes a few steps forward.

5 INT. HALLWAY – NIGHT – CONTINUOUS 5

Suddenly, a shadow moves swiftly under the bathroom door. Levi stops. His face goes white.

He calls out for his dad.

LEVI
Dad? Is that you?

Someone starts pounding the bathroom door violently. Levi’s mind is racing.

A gentle wind breezes by Levi’s neck. GOOSEBUMPS. He feels his neck and looks back. There’s no one.

He backtracks his steps . . .
. . . first step . . .
. . . second step . . .
. . . third . . .

Levi hears an echo calling his name. He turns around and sees Charlotte wearing the same blood-stained dress from the accident.

6 INT. LEVI’S BEDROOM – NIGHT 6

Levi wakes up in shock. Yet again.

7 INT. LIVING ROOM – NIGHT – CONTINUOUS 7

Levi gulps down a glass of water, with two red pills. As he lowers his glass, snapshots of him and his family hang before his eyes.

His eyes dart to a photo of Charlotte. Levi forms a tiny smile.

The camera lingers on one photo. THE PHOTOGRAPH CAPTURES LEVI AND CHARLOTTE POSING BY THE WATERSIDE.

CHARLOTTE (O.S.)
I remember this day.

Levi turns around and finds himself at the waterside.

8 EXT. WATERSIDE – AFTERNOON 8

Charlotte stands with Levi at the waterside.

CHARLOTTE
It was so windy we could barely stand still.

LEVI
Mom? Is that really you?

CHARLOTTE
I guess.

Levi runs up to Charlotte and hugs her.

LEVI
I can’t believe it! It is really you! I thought I dreamt of you last night.

CHARLOTTE
I dream of you every single day, Levi.

LEVI
Quick. We gotta get back home. I want dad to see you.

Levi pulls Charlotte’s hands but she does not budge.

CHARLOTTE
It’s alright now Levi. Here, first take this. It will protect you.

Charlotte hands Levi a sparkling locket.

LEVI
Come home with me, mom.

CHARLOTTE
I will. But first, you have to wake up.

LEVI
What– what do you mean?

CHARLOTTE
All you have to do is just–

JACK (O.S.)
Levi?

9 INT. LIVING ROOM – MORNING – CONTINUOUS 9

Jack comes in.

JACK (CONT’D)
Who were you talking to?

Levi looks around him.

LEVI
I thought– Mom . . . I just saw her.

Jack takes a deep breath.

JACK
Come. Sit with me.

Jack and Levi sit on the couch, next to each other.

JACK (CONT’D)
I see her too. There are like these random surges when I don’t know what takes over me but I think she is still with me when I am in bed, or going to work.

(MORE)

Beat.

JACK (CONT’D)
Or sometimes, I smell her perfume around the house. I don’t know how to explain it.

JACK (CONT’D)
I don’t know if that makes sense.

Levi nods meekly.

JACK (CONT’D)
Let’s go out for a drive. Just the two of us.

Jack prepares to get up.

LEVI
I think she is trying to tell me something.

Levi’s phone RINGS. An unknown number.

Levi and Jack share a look. Levi raises the phone next to his ear.

CHARLOTTE
Levi! You gotta wake up!

10 INT. CAR, STREET – MORNING 10

Jack pushes down the brake. Levi jolts awake, snapping out of his sleep.

Levi, aghast, releases a long strained breath.

JACK
We’re here.

The glove compartment opens up, breaking off like a dam’s spillway.

Levi tries to close it repeatedly, but it won’t shut. Frustrated, he rushes out of the car.

Jack, concerned, notices sweat dripping from Levi’s forehead. He looks delirious with his unkempt hair and baggy eyes.

LEVI
(stuttering)
Dad!

LEVI (CONT’D)
I could’ve walked, or taken the bus after the audition or anything. This wouldn’t have happened if . . .

Jack interjects.

JACK
Levi. She wanted to come see you. It was her choice.

Levi remains silent.

JACK (CONT’D)

Please, Levi.

Levi hears Jack’s voice as that of Charlotte’s.

LEVI
What?

JACK
Go on and talk to Dr. Wilson. Bottling up your emotions won’t help either of us.

Levi nods apprehensively. Levi follows behind Jack.

Levi looks around him and sees Charlotte standing at a distance with a nurse. He holds his gaze and sees Charlotte look at her watch and continues to walk behind Jack.

11 INT. THERAPIST’S OFFICE – MORNING 11

DR. WILSON [late 30s], is a slightly overweight African- American woman.

They look at each other in silence.

DR. WILSON
How have you been the last two months?

Levi sits by quietly.

DR. WILSON (CONT’D)
You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.

Beat.

DR. WILSON (CONT’D)
I read this somewhere: moths use stars to travel. But, they often get distracted by the artificial lights. It’s too much for them. They get lost in it. You have to open your eyes and find your real light.

Levi battles the lump in his throat.

LEVI
I still see her.

DR. WILSON
When was the last time you saw her?

Levi looks up to respond.

LEVI
I’m not sure. I keep having these vivid dreams, like she’s trying to tell me something.

DR. WILSON
What do you think that is?

LEVI
I- I don’t know. Maybe I just want her to tell me something. Each time I see or hear her, I- I . . .

Levi pauses.

          DR. WILSON

You what?

          LEVI

Iwake up.

A gentle wind breezes by Levi’s neck.

DR. WILSON
Ok, well. So you’re aware it’s a dream?

Levi nods.

DR. WILSON (CONT’D)
Good. The fact that you’re able to differentiate between dream and reality is reassuring. How many pills have you been taking?

          LEVI

Two.

DR. WILSON

Two?! I had asked you to only take one.

Levi defends himself.

LEVI
(stuttering)
I– I thought it would help me calm down. I was so nervous.

Dr. Wilson walks to her cupboard to grab her prescription pad.

DR. WILSON
It’s important that you stay on the pharmaceutical path for at least another couple of months. But don’t see this as a setback.

She fills out the prescription.

DR. WILSON (CONT’D)
Remember, one pill to calm you down and two to help you sleep. Anytime you need me, I’m just a call away.

She hands him the prescription.

DR. WILSON (CONT’D)
(reassuringly)
You are not alone. One for all and . . .

Levi looks at Dr. Wilson in awe. He looks down recalling how his mother would say the same. The words seem to hang in the air for him.

LEVI
(quietly) All for one.

Levi gets ready to leave. He turns back and says:

LEVI (CONT’D)
You remind me of my mother.

Dr. Wilson passes a wistful smile.

DR. WILSON
I’m flattered. You have got my number.

12 INT. BATHROOM – NIGHT 12

A PHONE RINGS JARRINGLY AT DISTANCE.

Levi stands in front of a mirror, his face drained of color. He flings three red pills in his mouth.

He looks at himself in the mirror. A penetrating, unwavering stare.

MUSIC FADES IN.

13 INT. HALLWAY – NIGHT – CONTINUOUS 13

Levi exits the bathroom. Enters the hallway, dark and dead. He sees Charlotte at the end of the hallway. They both look at each other, waiting for the other to make the first move.

14 EXT. STREET – NIGHT 14

CLOSE UP on Levi’s face. Charlotte enters the frame from R
and kisses him on the cheek. CAMERA CUTS TO LONG SHOT REVEAL Levi standing alone on a street. Levi looks around to find Charlotte.

LEVI RUNS TOWARDS THE CAMERA.

He runs on the street, reminiscing about his mother.

15 INT. LIVING ROOM – EVENING 15

Levi and Charlotte (4) are sitting on the couch. Charlotte leans in to kiss Levi on the cheek.

16 INT. LEVI’S HOUSE – LIVING ROOM – EVENING 16

Jack sits next to Levi on the couch.

JACK
It’s gonna be okay. You’re gonna be okay.

17 INT. LIVING ROOM – MORNING 17

Charlotte is eating a bowl of soup. She looks up and smiles blissfully at Levi (6).

18 INT. PLAYGROUND – AFTERNOON 18

Levi (10) looks vacantly at the sun burning at him. He looks at his shadow crumbling towards his body.

19 EXT. CITY – NIGHT 19

Levi recollects himself at a busy street. His eyes race to notice a LED screen which reads: ‘LEVI, TURN AROUND’.

Levi turns around and . . .

BANG!

A figure off-screen strikes his head with a bat.

20 INT. DARK ROOM – NIGHT 20

Levi drops down to a chair. The room is pitch dark.

CHARLOTTE
Levi!

LEVI
Mom?! I don’t know if that’s really you or not. (beat) I can’t stand this any longer.

CHARLOTTE
Listen to me. (beat)
You can’t give up this easily.

LEVI
I’m going mad. I can’t separate thought from feeling. They seem the same to me.

CHARLOTTE
You have to fight through it. The Levi I know is a fighter who gets what he wants.

           LEVI

I can’t.

CHARLOTTE

Can’t say I can’t. You say I’m not done yet. Remember Levi, you’ve to use everything you’ve got.

LEVI
I’m tired, mom– and really scared. I don’t know what to do.

CHARLOTTE
Please Levi, all you’ve to do is wake up.

Charlotte starts getting smaller and smaller as the echoes continue.

A blinding white light shines on Levi’s face from the front. Beat.

FADE TO WHITE.

21 INT. HOSPITAL – NIGHT 21

THE CAMERA STEADILY DOLLIES towards a hospital bed.

Levi’s body lies on the bed, lifeless. He is covered in white sheets and his head swathed in bandages. He is wearing his mother’s locket around his neck.

Charlotte, sniffling, sits beside his bed, clenching Levi’s hands. She’s imploring Levi to ‘wake up’ with her head buried in his sheets.

CHARLOTTE
Please wake up, Levi. I love you. Please just wake up.

MUSIC FADES OUT.

Levi’s eyelids move ever so slightly. He opens his eyes sluggishly. He amasses the strength to move his lips and fumbles with a series of beginnings to finally say:

LEVI
(weakly)
Mom.

Charlotte raises her head instantaneously. Her face fills with life. Her eyes slowly fill with tears of realization. They gently spill over her white face.

Charlotte rises from her seat and smothers Levi with hugs and kisses.

CHARLOTTE
Levi! You are awake!

Levi struggles to free himself from the clasps of his mother’s love.

LEVI
You are alive? Where am I?

Charlotte runs out to get Jack.

Jack comes running in and seats himself beside Levi and hugs him.

JACK
Oh, Levi. We thought we lost you.

LEVI
Huh?

JACK
You were in a coma for almost two months.

Levi looks at his mom.

LEVI
I thought it was you who had died, Mom.

CHARLOTTE
I don’t know what happened. I was so scared.

JACK
But your mom never left your side for a minute. She spoke to you day and night.

CHARLOTTE
I thought if you heard a familiar voice, it would help keep your wits together and let you know that we are here for you.

Charlotte holds Levi’s hand.

JACK
I’ll get the doctor.

Jack leaves to get the doctor.

Charlotte leans in close to Levi and kisses and hugs him again.

CUT TO BLACK.

CHARLOTTE
One for all . . .

LEVI
All for one.

 

Arnav Gupta’s short script “The Mind Whisperer” won first prize in the Eighth Annual School of Visual Arts Writing Program Contest. Arnav is a sophomore majoring in Film at SVA.