EXT. FARMLANDS/INT. VAN – DAY
Fields of crops line the road for miles.
The Tulsens drive along an empty road. In the van, Shiro drives with Mayla in the passenger seat; in the middle from left to right, Ni, Calif, & Kobai; in the back, Xena, Shell, & Mi.
The drive seems as if the Tulsens are going to a funeral. The air is stiff with silence. Not even a whisper is muttered. The only sounds are the van on the road and Kobai occasionally turning a page in her book.
Mi looks out the window wanting to get out of the van. Calif & Xena are confused as to what is going on. A downtrodden Mayla can barely lift her head.
Ni tries to break the mood.
NI: The sky is really pretty today. Kind of makes you want to run outside and keep the sun up.
Ni’s attempt at lifting the mood is not working.
NI: So… Dad, where are we going?
SHIRO: My home. I told your Aunt Gale we’d be staying until we can find a place.
NI: Aunt Gale? Is this her place? I thought you said your home.
SHIRO: It’s her’s now. Your Aunt Gale said she wanted to run the farm after my dad threw out his back. He’s been at a nursing home just outside of town.
NI: Wait, I thought you said she lives on a farm.
KOBAI: He’s saying that there is a town down the road where the nursing home is, and the farm is on the same road, just further away.
SHIRO: Thank you, Kobai. Does that make sense, Ni?
Ni tries to process what she’s been told. Sparks start popping from her head.
SHIRO: Never mind. Just wait until we get there.
Ni stops thinking.
MAYLA: How long are we going to be staying?
SHIRO: As soon as I find a job somewhere.
NI: Can we stay the whole summer? That would be awesome. A whole summer vacation on one vacation. This is going to be so exciting! (beat) Wait, what’s a farm like?
The van turns right onto a dirt driveway.
EXT. TULSEN FARM – DAY
A big farm with acre of crops.
The van pulls up to the end of the driveway.
A fairly large house with worn out paint stands at the end of the driveway with a small little shed to the side. A truck sits next to the house.
GALE HERRON – Shiro’s younger sister, dirty blond, wearing overalls and a large enough smile to land a Boeing passenger plane – greets them from the porch.
The van pulls up to the house.
Shiro gets out first.
GALE: So, you finally got your driver’s license.
SHIRO: I’ve had one before I left.
GALE: Well that ain’t an excuse for not visiting every now-and-again.
Mayla, Kobai, & Calif come out of the van.
SHIRO: I couldn’t get a ride big enough for all of us.
GALE: SO you did become a father-
Ni burst out of the van up to Gale, grabs her hand, and shakes.
NI: Hi Aunt Gale. It’s so nice to meet you. I’m Ni. I’m 12-years-old. I play soccer. Is this your home?
GALE: Yes, it is.
NI: I LOVE IT!
Ni gets all on top of Gale.
NI (CONT’D): Can I look around?
Ni blasts into the house and zooms around the entire place both inside & out. Gale is shocked by Ni’s surplus of spunk.
GALE: I guess y'all have a very lively family.
KOBAI (monotone): No, that’s just Ni.
LUEGON HERRON – Gale’s husband, well built both in body & tan – comes around the side of the house holding JOSIAH – Gale & Luegon’s 1-year-old son who is only set to happy.
LUEGON: Hon, we got visitors?
GALE: It’s just Shiro and his girls. They just got here.
Ni bursts out of the house & spots Luegon.
Ni leaps toward Luegon.
NI (soaring): UNCLLLLLLLLLLLLE- (notices Josiah) BABY!
Ni flings herself off course into a poll on the porch.
Everyone stares at Ni. Josiah laughs.
GALE: I guess that was nothing for her.
KOBAI: “Daily routine” would fit.
GALE (beat): I thought you said you had seven.
SHIRO: Three of them are still inside.
Mayla tries to coax Xena out. Mi has slipped out.
MAYLA: Come on out, Xena. Aunt Gale wants to meet you.
Xena’s xenophobia is working overtime from last night. She’s shaking violently.
Gale walks up to the back.
GALE: Hi there.
Xena hides behind Shell.
MAYLA: Sorry. Xena had a rough night. She’s not use to strangers.
GALE: I think she’ll grow on me.
Luegon walks up to the van. He sees Shell lounging.
LUEGON: Long ride, huh?
SHIRO: Not really. Mind helping me get her in?
LUEGON: She’s that heavy of a sleeper?
SHIRO: If only it were just that.
Shiro realizes that Mi is not in the van. He walks around the van.
On the other side, Mi leans against the van. Shiro comes around to the other side.
SHIRO: Go see your aunt.
Mi acts stubborn and refuses to move.
SHIRO: Look, you may have a problem with me but that doesn’t mean you should treat your other relatives the same. Now go show yourself to them.
Mi unwillingly gets off the van & walks to the other side.
Luegon has Shell in his arms. Gale has Josiah.
CALIF: What’s his name?
GALE: This is Josiah. Josiah, say hi.
Josiah smiles and bounces off his mom.
GALE: Okay baby, okay. (Josiah calms down) Okay. Bit a little scamp, isn’t he? (heads for house) Well everyone, let’s show you around.
Calif, Mayla, Kobai, Shiro, Luegon, & Mi follow Gale. Gale leads the group into the house. Ni gets herself off the poll and follows the group cutting ahead of Mi.
INT. FARMHOUSE, FOYER – DAY
A cozy little place that could hold a large family. The place has been remodeled some. On the left is the living room, on the left is the dining room. A staircase lies at the end of the house next to the kitchen.
Gale shows the girls around. Mayla, Calif, & (especially) Ni are amazed by the size of the house.
Luegon takes Shell up to her room.
GALE: Now, Shiro, do you want me to show the girls around or would you like to?
SHIRO: Go ahead. I’m going to go ahead & unload what we have.
Shiro heads out.
NI: This place is SO BIG.
GALE: It was my grandpa’s place. He built the entire thing by hand …with some help. On the right is the living room.
The girls look at the living room.
INT. FARMHOUSE, LIVING ROOM – DAY
A small little living room with two couches and an old antenna television. Baby toys line the floor.
MAYLA: It’s a bit dusty, isn’t it?
GALE (playing with Josiah): This little one doesn’t give me much time to clean, do you?
GALE: On the left is the dining room.
INT. DINING ROOM – DAY
A grand scale, 19th century dining room with a big enough table for 16 people to sit at.
Mayla, Calif, & Ni are astounded by the sight. Kobai’s interest is peaked.
KOBAI: Amazing. This seems more like a pre-Antebellum-style dining room than a 20th-century one.
GALE: Grandpa said he wanted some class in his place. (walks down hallway) I show y’all where your rooms are.
The girls follow. Mi drags behind.
INT. FARMHOUSE, STAIRCASE – DAY
An oak staircase that has seen better days. The staircase leads right up to the kitchen.
Gale leads the girls up to the second floor. Calif loves the stair’s wooden steps and faded woodwork.
KOBAI: Why is the staircase facing away from the entrance?
GALE: Grandpa said the best way to wake someone up was to call their stomach first.
MAYLA: That explains a lot.
INT. FARMHOUSE, 2ND FLOOR – DAY
A hallway lined with doors. Two balconies are the front & the back of the house stand on each end of the floor.
Gale & the girls reach the floor. The girls can’t believe how many doors there are.
GALE: Now, this house was design to fit a pretty large family – believe me, are cousins lived with us for a time – so there are more than enough rooms in here for all of y’all.
CALIF: Why are there so many?
KOBAI: I can assume that your grandfather - our great-grandfather - designed this house to function as a large-scale farming operation in keeping the family and any work hands close to the master of the land and provide a fairly psychologically sound environment to reduce stress and increase morale.
Gale is dumbfounded by Kobai’s extensive evaluation.
GALE: Right… (beat) Now, some of you might have to share. (points to far-back room) The farthest one back in mine & Luegon’s. The one next to it is Josiah’s.
Luegon comes out of one of the rooms close to the front.
LUEGON: Your sister- uh, what’s her name? Anyway, I put her in here if that’s all right.
MAYLA: It’s fine. Anywhere works for Shell.
NI: CAN I SLEEP WITH SHELL? Can I? Can I? PLEEeeease.
Ni rushes into her room.
NI (O.S.): The bed is made of wood! This is so awesome!
GALE: Y’all can decide which room you want. The one down the hall near the front balcony is Shiro’s old room, so he might take that. (Josiah yawns) I’m gonna go put this one down. Luegon, show them around for me, okay.
LUEGON: Gotcha, dear.
Gale enters Josiah’s room.
NI (O.S.): It even comes with rats! I’m never leaving!
MAYLA (to Kobai): I guess you will be getting your own room.
KOBAI: Well overdue, if you ask me.
Mayla opens one of the doors.
INT. FARMHOUSE, BEDROOM – DAY
Mayla looks inside one of the rooms. The room has a window and three beds.
KOBAI: I suppose some rooms were bound to have more than one bed.
INT. FARMHOUSE, 2ND FLOOR – DAY
Calif walks off.
MAYLA: I don’t mind sharing a room with Calif & Xena again. (to Calif) Right, Calif?
Calif stands in an empty room with one bed. She slams the door shut.
Mayla & Kobai are confused by their sister’s unusual act.
EXT. FARMHOUSE, FRONT PORCH – EVENING
Shiro carries a petrified Xena onto the porch.
SHIRO: You’ll love this place, Xena. This is where I grew up. I know every little corner. I can even show you the best place to watch the sun rise.
Xena quakes in Shiro’s arms.
Shiro considers not taking Xena in.
SHIRO: Would you rather sleep in the barn? No one else is in there.
Xena’s shaking lessens.
INT. BARN – EVENING
A loaded barn with tools for work and animals in pins. Cows & pigs are the only animals in the barn.
In the rafters, Xena lays in a bed of straw. She feels at ease and in wonder of this soft bed.
Shiro stands on a ladder leading to the rafters.
SHIRO: Nice, huh? I used to sleep in here a lot when I was younger. I even pretended to run away in here once. Do you like it?
Xena nods yes. Shiro is happy to see that.
CREEK The main door opens. Gale enters the barn.
GALE: Found your hidden stash?
Xena freaks out at the sound of Gale’s voice.
Shiro shushes Gale.
SHIRO: Xena, calm down. Calm down. No one coming up, okay?
Xena calms down some.
SHIRO: It’s just us, okay? (Xena looks at Shiro) Okay. Get some sleep. (climbs down) I’ll see you in the morning.
Shiro gets off the ladder and pushes Gale out of the barn.
EXT. BARN – EVENING
A red barn in dire need of a new coat of paint.
Shiro & Gale stand on the side of the barn. Shiro stands against the barn.
GALE: Okay Shiro, why are you here?
SHIRO: I told you already.
GALE: I appreciate the visit, but you coming out here because you can’t find another place is not good enough. Can’t you just ask your insurance company to help you find a new place?
Shiro looks away from Gale for a second.
SHIRO: I don’t have any.
Gale can’t believe what she heard.
GALE: Shiro Tulsen, why? Better still, how did you get out of there?
EXT. TULSEN APARTMENT – NIGHT
The apartment smolders. Firefighters inspect the premises.
Firefighters continue to care for Shell. Shiro watches.
MR CONNER: MR. TULSEN.
MR. CONNER, owner of the apartment building the Tulsens live in, storms up to Shiro.
SHIRO: Mr. Conner.
MR CONNER: I was just informed that the fire started in your apartment. Is that true?
SHIRO: I don’t know. I was walking home when I saw the fire.
MR CONNER: Well than how can you explain to me why the cause of the fire was a T.V.?
KOBAI: Mr. Conner, does your insurance cover property damage due to recalled devices?
Mr. Conner stares at Kobai.
MR CONNER: What do you know about this?
KOBAI: Simple. Are you aware of the recall on the Dulfin 36 television? The company was charged for rushed production of their product, went bankrupt due to extensive legal fees and repayments to people who purchased them.
Mr. Conner & the firefighters are dumbfounded by Kobai’s meticulous knowledge of an obscure event.
KOBAI: I saw the television idly collecting dust outside one of the apartments earlier today, and before I hear a rebuttal about how I could have prevented this incident from occurring, I assumed since it was setting outside an apartment that it to be disposed of.
MR CONNER: Can you explain why-
KOBAI: The set was recalled for faulty wiring with a 76% of igniting. The logo on the set matched the logo of the aforementioned company: a slanted capital F with a capital D protruding from the F. (to Mi) Isn’t that right, Mi?
Mi stares transfixed to the fire.
NI: I saw it. It was on the television.
KOBAI: Fortunately, there are still 38 units MIA from the recall, which means that you can expect a great compensation if you notify your insurance company.
The firefighters are beyond dumbfounded.
Mr. Conner pulls out his cellphone & dials away.
EXT. BARN – EVENING
Gale gives Shiro a disapproving scowl.
GALE: You got lucky this time. What if it had been something where a lawsuit did not come in handy? What then?
Shiro becomes more agitated with each word.
GALE (CONT’D): You’re supposed to be their father. What kind of father does not think about getting insurance when he has seven girls who depend on you?
SHIRO (snaps): It’s because of them that I can’t.
Gale does not understand what Shiro means.
SHIRO (CONT’D): Everything bit of paperwork about the girls is fake. Their adoption, their medical records… Insurance companies are strict on certain things. They’ll ask why I haven’t taken them for a check-up. And you know why.
GALE: No, I don’t.
SHIRO: Did you not notice Kobai’s horns?
Gale realizes that she ignored something.
SHIRO (CONT'D): They say this world is different, more accepting… That’s a load of bull. Do you know what happened to Xena? Do you know why she is terrified of people? She was beaten, kicked. I was able to get her out, and I heard what those kids were saying about her.
Gale feels frozen by everything Shiro is saying.
The sun sets. Night falls.
SHIRO (CONT’D): I always feared something like that would happen. And the day I let my guard down… (tear down Shiro’s face) I promised I would never something like that happen again.
Gale stands there, almost unable to grasp everything Shiro had to do on a daily basis as a father.
Shiro stands there with a stern face and a tear streak.
INT. FARMHOUSE, 2ND FLOOR – NIGHT
Mayla, Kobai, Calif, & Ni try on some of Gale & her sister’s night gowns. Luegon stands behind an open trunk full of girl’s clothes.
NI: These are so cute.
LUEGON: They belonged to your aunts. I’m sure they won’t mind if you girls wear them.
Gale & Shiro walk up the staircase.
SHIRO: Oh boy. My past has finally caught up to me.
GALE: Now those just look fine. Y’all can keep them if you’d like.
NI (jumps): YOU’RE THE GREATEST!
Ni tackles Gale. Ni & Gale tumble down the staircase. Mayla, Calif, & Luegon rush to the staircase.
INT. FARMHOUSE, FOYER – NIGHT
Ni & Gale lies on the floor.
GALE: We’re okay.
GALE (getting up): This ain’t the first time I’ve fallen down these steps.
LUEGON: Well, now that that is settled, who’s hungry?
Calif jumps up and down.
KOBAI: I suppose it is about time for dinner.
INT. FARMHOUSE, FOYER – NIGHT
Gale heads into the kitchen.
GALE: We’ve got plenty of leftovers from this week. I hope that’s fine.
INT. FARMHOUSE, 2ND FLOOR - NIGHT
SHIRO: Anything’s better than what we had for lunch.
Ni heads into the kitchen. Mayla & Calif head down the stairs. Kobai takes out her wings and glides down. Luegon watches Kobai soar in the house.
LUEGON: You won’t kidding, brother.
SHIRO: And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
LUEGON: How long do you plan on staying?
SHIRO: Hopefully not long. I need to figure everything out. It’s not going to be easy.
O.S. Josiah cues in his room.
LUEGON: Well we don’t mind looking after the girls when you’re busy. I think Josiah will like having his cousins over.
SHIRO: Most of them shouldn’t cause you much trouble.
LUEGON: What about the youngest one?
INT. BARN – NIGHT
Xena sleeps soundly in her bed of straw.
SHIRO (V.O.): It might take awhile for Xena to feel comfortable around you & Gale.
INT. FARMHOUSE, JOSIAH’S ROOM – NIGHT
A nursery with toys all over the floor, a little changing station with a trash can next to it, and a crib with a happy Josiah.
SHIRO (V.O.) (continue): Though I don’t know about Josiah.
Josiah laughs while holding onto the bars of his crib.
INT. FARMHOUSE, 2ND FLOOR - NIGHT
LUEGON: And… Shell?
INT. FARMHOUSE, NI & SHELL’S ROOM – NIGHT
The bed is bunk bed made of wood. A built-in ladder runs down the back.
Shell lies in her bed.
INT. FARMHOUSE, 2ND FLOOR – NIGHT
SHIRO: We all wish we knew.
Luegon sees that Shell is a heavy burden for Shiro and probably the other girls.
LUEGON: Maybe she’ll wake up here. Country is good for ya, you know?
Shiro feels a bit of hope from Luegon’s words.
SHIRO: Maybe you’re right. Maybe something good will come out of all this chaos. Speaking of which, have you seen Mi?
LUEGON: The red head? Not since y’all got here.
Shiro worries about what Mi is up to.
GALE (O.S.): Hey, if y’all want something, better come on down.
LUEGON: Better take her at her word.
SHIRO: I see she hasn’t changed.
Luegon heads for Josiah’s room.
LUEGON: Tell her to get something for Josiah for me.
Shiro thinks about everything that is going to happen, especially what Mi will do.
Shiro heads downstairs.
INT. FARMHOUSE, MI’S ROOM – NIGHT
Shiro & Gale’s older sister’s room. The room looks as if it hasn’t moved in years. Clothes hang in the closet, a circular rug lies in the middle of the floor, a dresser with expired makeup cover the top.
Pictures of Shiro’s family & some friends line the room. One picture shows a 7-year-old Shiro, a 4-year-old Gale, and the others:
NELIANA “NELL” – 13-years-old with flowing black hair, takes more after their mother
HENRY TUSLEN – Shiro’s dad, white-male with the body of a hard-working farmer
AOYAMA TULSEN – Shiro’s mom, Asian, has a seen her fair share of farm work
Mi looks out the window at the full moon, just staring, almost as if she is trying to run away from this depressing and constraining reality.
INT. FARMHOUSE, KITCHEN – NIGHT
A fairly small kitchen that is overdue for a remodel that the Tulsens somehow can all fit in.
Kobai, Calif, Shiro, & Luegon enjoy the leftovers. Ni scarves down her food. She chokes a few times. Gale feeds Josiah. Mayla offers to feed him. Gale lets Mayla feed Josiah.
EXT. FARMHOUSE, MI’S ROOM – NIGHT
Mi stares up at the sky through the closed window, wondering how to escape this prison she has somehow ended up in.