To the untrained eye, Markus Abscent seems like an ordinary dad, but after having spent several years speaking solely in popular catchphrases, Abscent (59) has more in common with an oyster than a human being.
It all started as a way of watching the cricket while pretending to listen to one of his wife’s notoriously detail-heavy stories. By repeating the last word of every sentence she said, Abscent gave the impression that he was listening, while managing to catch most of the ’05/’06 Test series. Through trial and error, Abscent started outsourcing larger portions of his brainpower to the task of ignoring his wife, now occasionally including common light-hearted phrases, adding to the facade.
As he grew older, Markus began to rely more heavily on his new ability for social interactions. A lifetime of mentally cataloguing classic movie quotes, slogans, sporting references and puns meant that his brain could subconsciously handle routine conversations without needing “Markus” to be involved. At some point in his mid to late ’50s, Abscent reached a state where he appears to have access to a catchphrase for every possible sequence of events – enough for him to run completely on autopilot.
“This’ll put hair on ya chest!” quips Abscent, placing a carton of Tooheys Old on the counter at Dan Murphy’s, cheerfully noting that “if the barcode doesn’t scan, it must be free!” When asked if he needed a receipt, he scoffs “Don’t worry champ, she’s not coming back!”
Interestingly, Abscent’s brain appears to contain the remnants of political opinions. When he hears the words “Labor Party” he responds with, “Wayne Swan couldn’t organise a root in a brothel,” but when pressed on the topic he states, “Nah, they’re all fuckin dogs, aye.”
CSIRO researchers first approached the Abscent family with the hope that Markus’ condition would lead to advances in the field of artificial intelligence. Initially baffling scientists, Abscent’s ability to perform day-to-day interactions despite a complete lack of brain activity promised the potential to streamline complex computational processes. In a disappointing turn of events, testing has since shown that what remains of Abscent’s brain merely mimics human behaviour, with researchers describing Markus as having “the mental complexity of a vending machine – and not the Japanese kind.”
Markus has since become an important figure in the Buddhist community, with devotees believing his body to be proof of a kind of demigod that has transcended the physical dimension. Abscent’s family has managed to make the best of the situation, charging pilgrims a small donation to light incense sticks around him and tie ribbons to his chest hair.