The sound of a door opening woke Morty. His head was pounding. He sat up to see Rick standing in the doorway, holding some kind of measuring device. It beeped and blinked. Rick raised his eyebrows and frowned.
"Rick? What's going on?" Morty asked, still half asleep.
"Just checking on something. Don't worry about it. Go back to sleep." Rick slipped the device into his lab coat and turned to leave. He paused in the doorway, though, glanced back at Morty, then closed the door.
Morty couldn't sleep. His headache was unbearable and was getting worse by the minute. He tossed and turned almost all night. Finally he went into the bathroom to get some meds. He swallowed the pill with the help of some water and glanced in the mirror. He froze.
A huge, gaping crack was forming in the middle of his forehead. A literal hole, a few inches deep. It wasn't bleeding, but it seemed the headache was most powerful there. Morty fumbled with some gauze bandages, trying his hardest to conceal it so his family wouldn't panic. He had to talk to Rick about this.
First, he checked Rick's room. He wasn't there, which was unsurprising. He was probably in the garage. Morty found him drunk off his ass on his workbench. He could barely speak or even process what Morty was saying.
"Aw, you gotta be kidding me, Rick… How do you even get this drunk this quickly?" Morty looked at the bottle in Rick's hand. His grip on it was so strong, you would've sworn it was melded to his skin or something. "'Goopadorp's famous Blipshot…'" Morty read the writing. That stuff wasn't made for human consumption, that was for sure. I'd be a while before Rick would get up.
Something caught Morty's eye. The device Rick had before was lying on the table. Morty picked it up and read the label crudely scribbled on with a Sharpie. "Brain wave activity…Psychometer." Obviously a name Rick made up himself. Why would Rick be using this in Morty's room? Could brain waves be affecting Morty's head? Was that why he had these headaches and a hole in his head?
Morty examined the Psychometer more closely. It was a relatively boring grey box, compared to what Rick usually made. It had two antenna sticking out the top, a spectrum and dial, going from 0 to 1000, and a few unlabeled buttons. There was an on/off switch on the side of it and a battery compartment on the back. It reminded Morty of an old Gameboy system, but with antenna and a strange way of measuring brain waves.
Curious, Morty switched the Psychometer on. It started blipping like before, in his room. He aimed the antenna towards Rick. The needle on the spectrum moved to what looked like a 10. Almost no brain activity whatsoever. Figures; alcohol of that strength would give even Rick's body a workout.
Morty turned the Psychometer on himself, wondering if it could pick up anything wrong with him.
The needle skyrocketed to about 300. 300 of what, Morty didn't know, but it was high enough a number to get him worried. It didn't help that the Psychometer was beeping rapidly now, as if it weren't used to receiving a signal this strong.
"Rick? Rick? C'mon, get a hold of yourself! I'm freaking out here… I don't think this is normal…" Rick didn't respond. "Ugh, C'mon! Get up!" Morty had the idea of checking his pulse, suddenly concerned about whether he was okay or not. He checked on Rick's neck. His heart was beating and he was breathing. Very slowly. But he was still alive.
Morty switched off the Psychometer and put it down on the workbench. He had no choice but to wait until morning for Rick to wake up. He went back into his room and waited, still unable to sleep.
His headache had somehow gotten even worse.
Morty showered and replaced the bandage on his head. He was no better than last night, but maybe Rick would be up by now to help. He went downstairs.
In the dining room were his parents and Summer. Rick wasn't there. "Dammit…" Morty mumbled under his breath.
"Jesus, Morty, what happened to your head? Why's it all bandaged up?" Jerry, his dad, asked. "If Rick has anything to do with this…" He stopped short. Beth, Morty's mom, was glaring at him. She didn't like it when Jerry accused her father of being irresponsible, even though she realized just how uncaring he could be to others.
"Uh, I had to get a snack… and I fell down the stairs. Yeah. I have a headache. Can I stay home from school?"
"Did you take the pills in the medicine cabinet?" Beth wondered.
"Uh, yeah. They made it worse. Plus, I got no sleep."
"All right, then. I'll call the high school." Jerry said, picking up his phone.
"Aw, what? How come Morty gets to stay home? He just fell down the stairs. I broke my arm once and you still made me go!" Summer complained.
Beth shushed Summer and told her not to whine. Summer puffed and grabbed her backpack. She left for the school bus. Beth took the car to the horse clinic she worked at. Jerry went off for another job interview, which he would bomb, undoubtedly.
Morty went into the garage and found Rick mixing booze with some chemical he didn't recognize. Rick was hungover, really badly, too. He mumbled something about "assholes selling me the weak stuff when I paid for the strong kind". Morty didn't want to know what the strong stuff would do to him.
"Hey Rick? I need your help. There's like this hole in my head or something and-"
"Shut up, Morty. I'm busy. I'm making a cure for hangovers. It's called more alcohol."
"I, uh, don't think that's gonna help much. Please, Rick, something's wrong with my head!"
"You're just now noticing this? Morty, you've had that since you were born."
"No, Rick. Not my stupidness. I already know about that, thanks to you always telling me every day of my life. There's a freaking hole in my head, Rick. Like, going straight through my brain. The headaches are killing me."
"Ugh, fine. If it'll get you to leave me alone." Rick put down his booze and his beaker and turned to Morty. He took off his bandages and flashed a flashlight to where Morty told him the hole was. "There's nothing there. Not a freckle. Now leave me alone."
"Nothing..?" Morty looked at his reflection in the piles of scrap metal Rick had lying around. He was right. There was no hole there anymore. The headaches hadn't left, but the hole had vanished. "But, Rick, I used the Psychometer, and…"
"You what?" Rick hesitated for a moment, but quickly recovered, "That stupid thing? It's broken. If it detects any brain activity at all it boosts the signal to, like, 250."
"You were a 10 and I was a 300." Morty knew Rick was lying. Why would he try to hide this from him?
Rick looked surprised for once. He grabbed the Psycometer and flicked it on. Aiming it at Morty, he stared at the dial. "What the hell… this wasn't supposed to-" He cut himself off.
"Supposed to what, Rick? What happened? Did you do something to me?" Morty was feeling desperate and confused. He prayed that the answer was no, that instead there was some device in the house that an alien had placed for a prank or something.
Rick sighed and tossed the device onto the workbench. "I put an alien parasite in your head. It burrowed in during the night."
"You WHAT?! RICK!"
"It was supposed to boost your brain activity to around 150, my usual level, so you could actually help me build stuff. Obviously, it's doing something else, since it's double than that now."
"Oh my god, Rick! What the hell?! You thought you could do that without telling me?!"
"I thought, yes, but I guess you're too smart to be tricked like that now. Here, drink some of this." Rick handed the beaker from before to Morty. "It's like, a kind of depressant."
"I'm not drinking this, Rick. It'll probably make me go brain dead or something."
"It's supposed to lower your brain activity to normal." Rick was getting frustrated now. "Just drink it."
"Okay…" Morty took a swig of the serum. His headache dulled a bit. "Oh, it's working."
"Of course it is, Morty. I'm a genius. Now get lost. I need to think for a while."
Morty opened the door to leave, but heard Rick say something.
(At this rate, he's gonna be a psychic or something.)
"What'd you say, Rick?"
"I didn't say anything, dipshit. Get lost." Morty could sense the panic in his tone. It was subtle, but it was there. Morty frowned, concerned, but went up into his room to take a nap.
What was going to happen to him?