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Proof of Concept

“Based on the most current cosmological evidence, the known universe is not even 5% ordinary matter, the crap all around we can see and feel.”

“That’s still a lot of crap,” Grunden commented. He always commented.

Reflexively, Finnhil waved him off. “Yeah, but that’s nothing. We’re after pay dirt, the thing that makes up over two-thirds of our reality.”

Grunden’s eyes widened. “Porn?”

“No. That’s just the internet. I’m talking about the whole whiz Big Bang cosmos: dark energy.”

Finnhil waited for Grunden’s comment. None came. He sighed.

“Really? You have nothing to say to that. We’re on the verge of testing one of the most revolutionary ideas of all time, and now you have nothing to say?”

“Sorry. I was passing gas.”

“You are a living metaphor, Grunden. A living metaphor.”

“Gas is as gas can.”

“Spare me. I’ll can your mocking hide when this is through, but I need your damnable help today.” Finnhil waved him to the video camera on a tripod set up ten feet from a table filled with singular-looking equipment. “Let’s get started.”

Deftly, Grunden trimmed the lights and manned the camera. With a smile, childish and free, he held up his right thumb

“We ready?” Finnhil asked.

Grunden wiggled his thumb in response.

Finnhil cleared his throat. “Begin recording.” He paused and tilted his soaring brow towards the camera. “Greetings. I’m James Monroe Finnhil. This day, Oct 10, 2025, I’ll achieve a breakthrough that will change the way we think about humanity and our place, our role in the universe.”

Gesturing with spidery hands, Finnhil motioned to the apparatus on the table before him. “I’ve developed a fairly simple test to determine the nature of dark energy, the force that drives matter seen and unseen in the cosmos. My postulation is that dark energy is intelligence. It is the source not of life, but of consciousness. Thought is literally a motive force.”

With a crease of a smile that did nothing to animate his narrow, yet heavy face, Finnhil picked up a glittering band of metal from the table. It could’ve been mistaken for a novelty store crown, but for the mesh of filaments forming its cap. In all reality it looked like Buck Roger’s hairnet. But, Finnhil’s pride in the device was palpable, though not matched by his ridiculous appearance when he donned the contraption.

Grunden sniggered.

“Quiet you!” Finnhil shushed with a cast of his bony index finger in his assistant’s direction. “We’ll have to edit that out. No more comments, Grunden. No more.”

“Nevermore,” Grunden agreed.

“Enough already. Let’s get back to it.” Finnhil gathered himself and repeated. “Thought is a motive force. Dark energy is its quintessence, the moduli, the scalar fields that result. Viewed through this lens both the Drake Equation and the Fermi Paradox coalesce into what I call Finnhil's Final Solution.”

Grunden sniggered again, but Finnhil charged on. “The proof of extraterrestrial intelligence, communicating extra-planetary civilizations, is all around us. We are that proof. The concept of dark energy only exists because of thought and reason. It is a product of intelligence. We now recognize the universe to be expanding due to what has been dubbed dark energy, but, as I will soon demonstrate, that cosmological expansion is really a factor of the growth of sentience, of intelligence, of reason in our inter-galactic brethren.”

Finnhil once again spread his hands expansively. “This should not come as a surprise because we were alerted to our thought and will as motive forces over a hundred years ago. Like many break-through discoveries, mine stands on the shoulder of giants. None greater than Edgar Rice Burroughs. He alone understood the relationship between dark energy and intelligence. Through his iconic John Carter he showed us the way to tap into the invisible forces that could propel us to faraway worlds. Burroughs was the one who sussed this truth for humanity.”

“He sucked alright,” Grunden mumbled.


It took a full minute for Finnhil to regain his composure. “As I said Edgar Rice Burroughs paved the way and now I will definitively demonstrate through proof of concept that concept is proof. The device I’m wearing on my head is wirelessly connected to an apparatus I invented called the Perturbational Complex Engine. In essence, it is a wave generator that reinforces neural activity. I am about to use it to focus on a single thought, a bold imperative, that will send me to Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom. That is fitting. My assistant is recording this momentous occasion for posterity. Humanity may not be, but I am ready.”

With a flourish, Finnhil pushed a series of buttons on a roughly mechanical apparatus on the table before him. It hummed and the delicate filaments of his shiny crown glowed brightly. Finnhil’s lips pulled away in either ecstasy or rigor mortis.

Grunden sniggered a last time.

At the site that had once been the residence of a J. M. Finnhil who had yet to be located by authorities, a fireman while digging through the largely charred, shredded and unrecognizable remains of the structure, discovered a glop determined to have once been a video camera. Forensic technicians extracted a memory chip, but the only recoverable data were two uttered, disjointed words: proof …. nevermore.

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