Tall Pines, Hive of Scum and Villainy

In the secluded mountain town of Tall Pines (game by Miles Gaborit), eighteen-year-old Kelly has been killed at the mall, pushed to her death in front of everyone, though no one saw who did it. The townsfolk prefer to pretend every thing is okay, but Agent Emily Barnes of the Federal Drug Taskforce has come to town to investigate the murder and uncovers more than she ever bargained for.

Tall Pines logo over picture of water fall
Tall Pines Logo courtesy of Self Critical Hits

Our story opens with local gigolo John Connely getting chewed out at the bar by the town’s therapist Jessica about how Kelly’s death doesn’t free him to work alone. Instead they need to figure out how to replace Kelly’s pivotal role in their prostitution/prescription drug ring, so they try to recruit Patrick, Kelly’s friend from the cheerleading squad. Meanwhile, Agent Barnes suspects deputy Alex Meyers is less than forthcoming about what is really going on, then confronts Heather, a classmate of Kelly’s who greets her at the door déshabillé, about the Adderall smuggling and the related ACT Down testing scam that she’s investigating. Heather breezily denies everything, but Barnes knows that this bad apple is guilty. Patrick tries to confess to Deputy Meyers that he and Kelly only pretended to cheer to bolster their college applications, but Alex refuses to recognize anything bad about town. At the big game, Agent Barnes is interrogating Patrick about their cheering fraud, when a blindfolded cheerleader named Marnie falls from the pyramid and dies.

Later, Agent Barnes meets John Connely at an abandoned cabin for a secret tryst, and Barnes blames herself for the accident at the game, but they also find a letter in Heather’s handwriting that says, “Please push her. I can’t stand it anymore!” At the de-griefing at the school, Patrick breaks down with Jessica and tries to harm himself, but she’s more concerned with who is supplying information to Agent Barnes and confronts John about it. Barnes finds a cache of money and Kelly’s charm bracelet in a recessed hollow in the railroad tunnel, leading her to believe Kelly was preparing to flee Tall Pines. At the funeral for Marnie, one of their classmates mysteriously catches fire lighting a cigarette and falls into the casket and burns to death. After three deaths, parents are in an uproar at the school board meeting, where parents and teachers agree to implement a curfew and consider putting house arrest ankle bracelets on the kids to track and keep them safe.

Patrick finally manages to confess to Deputy Alex Meyers about having brought bolt cutters to a mysterious figure at the entrance to the old mines. Agent Barnes follows Kelly’s escape route with John, who betrays her by threatening to reveal their relationship unless Emily gets him onto the Taskforce. Later Barnes and Deputy Meyers descend deeper into the tunnels but stop and light a candle at a weird shrine with a dead rat at its center. When Heather leads Patrick to the same shrine, she explains that Marnie had been the prophet of the Living Rat and had died because of Barnes interference. Water flows out from the shrine, and Heather holds Patrick under to drown him. Barnes and Meyers, following a trail through the tunnels, arrive just as Patrick perishes. Barnes draws her gun and challenges Heather about what she’s just done while Alex expresses doubts about whether this is the Living Rat’s will. As we fade to black, Alex leaps forward to grab Barnes gun and shots ring out.