As with Dear Esther (Esther), there’s a lot to speculate about in Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture (Rapture). My mind keeps mulling over the story, and questions, so I thought I’d inflict them on anyone reading this. Even better, I’m going to split this across a few entries, just because it’s become so large.
I’m generous like that.
Of course, there will be spoilers, so if you’re thinking of exploring this story, I suggest you do that first. Then you can come back here and disagree with me.
Before I begin, here’s a disclaimer: A lot of what I’ve written here is supposition and guesswork. I get very tired of writing ‘maybe’, ‘perhaps’, ‘possibly’ and the like and I’m pretty sure it gets tiring reading that. So I’m going to leave those types of words out a lot. But bear in mind that this is all guesswork and supposition.
Of course, the most obvious question is: what the hell (insert other expletive as necessary) happened? I don’t claim to have any definitive answers, so just call these ‘vaguely educated guesses’. To set the scene, here’s roughly the way things go.
Kate and Stephen are a married couple and astronomers. They have a theory about patterns in the night sky. I never quite got a handle on what those patterns meant, how they found or measured them, or anything else ‘hard’. However, apparently during one astronomical event they found a pattern that fit the theory and they amplified that, using the six optical telescopes they had at their disposal.
This Pattern, or part of it, manifests and burns the two astronomers. Then it begins affecting insects and birds – only around the observatory at the start. It spread out from there, moving between birds and animals, then people.
The effect of the Pattern on insects was negligible. The effect on birds and cows was death. The effect on people was death, closely followed by some kind of dissolving or exploding into light.
The local doctor, describing his own symptoms, notes that ‘a tumor’ in his hypothalamus is growing impossibly fast. This causes headaches, bloody noses and more. In the blood the doctor observes something he can only describe as ‘liquid light’. This is apparently one of the manifestations of The Pattern.
In the beginning it’s suggested that the deaths are a side effect of the Pattern trying to learn how to communicate – it doesn’t realise the damage it’s doing. Though it is intelligent, it doesn’t understand ‘life’ here. Later, though, there are also two people whom it killed deliberately – possibly because what they were doing was upsetting Kate, now The Pattern’s main contact as she keeps trying to boost or amplify the signal through the various telescopes and electrical equipment.
Stephen, who has some idea of what is happening, is now outside the Observatory and trying to somehow trace the migration of The Pattern, while Kate, inside the Observatory, is unaware (or later, may not care) about the effects outside.
Stephen manages to convince those outside the Valley to seal it off – initially in a Quarantine, and later shutting down the phone lines. Stephen realises that it may be too late, and that The Pattern might spread outside the Valley unless Something Is Done.
He then works to convince those higher up to take drastic action to ‘bomb’ the valley. He eventually succeeds and planes drop some kind of gas bombs that are described as ‘burning the lungs’ and kill relatively quickly.
It’s too late for those outside the valley, as The Pattern has already escaped and by the end appears to have wiped out everyone in the world.
Briefly Stephen survives by having hidden in an old bunker, but he’s preparing to kill himself just as he realises – by seeing The Pattern – that he was too late. Whether he meant to die after that revelation or not, he accidentally succeeds.
Kate has survived, in some form, due to the help or presence of The Pattern at its strongest in the Observatory. She’s apparently dying, but the gas doesn’t affect her enough to stop her boosting the signal enough to let The Pattern through completely.
At the end, she’s the only one left.
Did that confuse you?
Good. You’re keeping up then.
Now, hold this in your head until next time …