Character origin story

category: super villain

There are lots and lots of super villains in Funk City. The Glob, the monster mobster. Lead and Pipe. The Chopsticks Gang. Dr Cyborg. The Fish Master. The FFF, the Fearsome Foursome Females, or the Furious Four Fems, or .. they change their name alot. The following is what you'd find in the book: Funk City heroes, villains, and hideouts.

Marylee Julia Weather aka Julie Kitt aka Ratwoman

On a pleasant autumn day, an old white van backs up over the alley curb to the basement entrance of a brownstone building in Blythe. Two men get out of the front, walk around and open the back. They pull a painted-yellow steel dolly out and then drag an old black combination dial safe across the metal floor of the van until they can drop it down on the wide foot of the dolly. One man shuts the back van doors while the other pushes the dolly and safe toward the basement door of the brownstone.

The door opens and a tall slender beautiful woman with long dark hair emerges. She wears a long cashmere robe and slippers. She also wears a scar on her left cheek. She looks at the men, and then the safe, which meets her approval, and she ushers them inside. The first room of the basement has just some storage boxes and they go past that into a room with some appliances and a chairs with a few tools on it. The woman says, "There" and the men plop down the safe with a loud "Clunk!" onto the limestone floor of the basement. She hands one of the men two fifty dollar bills and the man hands her back a slip of paper with five numbers on it. She escorts the men and their dolly back to the basement door and they are gone.

Back in the room with the safe, she kneels down and turns the dial on the safe back and forth, matching the number on the slip of paper. She yanks on the bolt lever and the safe door creaks open. Looking inside she finds a few forgotten scraps of paper which she pulls out and put in the pocket of her robe. She gets up and goes to an old refrigerator, opens, and takes a wedge of cheese out of some twined-up waxed-paper bundle. She walks back to the safe, places the cheese in the safe, shuts the door, and spins the combination dial.

The woman walks to the back staircase of the basement, leans over the railing, looks up to the first floor and gives three very precise whistle blasts from her red lips. Seconds later three rats, one brown, one black, and one grey, come hopping down the stairs. The woman puts her hand on the safe and gives another whistle. The rats begin sniffing and inspecting the old metal safe. Through the tight cracks of the safe door they can smell the food on the inside, but after finding no entrance, the rats look at her puzzled. She gives a long fluted whistle as she spins the combination dial with her fingers.

The woman saunters to a chair and sits down. The rats have begin spinning the safe dial on their own and their ears can even hear the clicking of the wheel pack inside the lock but do not yet know what that sound means. The woman sighs, acknowledging that it will take hours of practice before the rats will be able to open the safe on their own. This is not some simple extraction job: pulling a necklace out of a dresser drawer or jewelry box. This will push her rats ability to learn to their limit.

She crosses her legs and puts her hands in her pockets. Her hand rediscovers the scraps of paper from the safe. She casually pulls them out and looks at them for curiosity's sake. One has a miscellaneous address on Park Avenue. Her mind flutters back to a burglary job she did in a nice house on that street. Surprisingly, upon her exit she ran into the despondent duo of Captain Junk and Trash. She had placed her soft hands on the Captain's sunken shoulders and whispered in his ear thinking an insincere compliment and her feminine wiles might gain her a reprieve, but no, the Captain said it was "By the book this time." She smiled at the Capt, kneed him in the nuts so hard he almost vomited, then pulled a black rat from her purse and threw it at Trash's face, who screamed like a little girl in terror. She then easily made her escape.

Fond memories, she thought. The second scrap is a receipt for a "Diamond broche." It is the capital D on the word diamond that starts the flood of less pleasant memories. It make her think of Diamond Fist. She leans her head back and closes her eyes.

Years ago the woman was Marylee Julia Weather, a teenager growing up in the mean streets of the Bulge, but she was blond and pretty and that got her waitress positions at small restaurants here and there. Soon "made men" of local gangsters noticed her and enticed her into more lucrative jobs like simple cons and hustles, or being a lookout or courier. Then her good looks caught the eye of Italian Trapani family mob boss, Sal Redstone aka Diamond Fist.

Sal is not the most handsome man in Funk City but he knows how to spoil a lady. Nice clothes, expensive jewelry, and many fancy dinners. Soon everyone know that Marylee was Diamond Fist's main squeeze. Unfortunately, this also caught the attention of local law enforcement.

Lt. John Dewolf, the lead in the organized crime division of the Funk City PD, had Marylee quietly arrested on a bogus charge from an unreliable snitch and left her in a windowless cell for eight hours. Where a wire for one night, is all they asked for, and she reluctantly agreed. Because she did not wear much clothing when she visited her godfather boyfriend the FCPD put a microphone in a necklace for her. That was a big mistake.

The slender blond beauty walked into Diamond Fist's gaudy penthouse apartment late the next night to see her man. He smiled at first, but then ire appeared on his face. He grabbed the new necklace he had never seen before, assuming it was a gift from another man, and tore it from her neck. His envy turned to astonishment and then rage as the necklace fell apart to reveal the recording device and wires. Working his way up in the Chicago mob, Diamond Fist is no stranger to dishing out violence, so his hand flies, and it is his diamond prosthetic hand. He hits her below her left eye and she falls hard onto the marble floors. She loses consciousness as Diamond Fist spews insults at her.

Marylee begins to wake up as she is dropped into a large wood crate at one of the mobster's many warehouses. The mob soldiers throw her tattered necklace, shoes, and small purse in with her. Then they put the top on and nail it shut. Much to her surprise she is not in total darkness. There are many one-inch holes drilled in the tops of the sides to let in air. Knowing nothing of shipping she is oblivious to the fact that she is shut within a wildlife crate. Barely keeping her wits she starts to examine her box and sees a hole much larger than the others; maybe a little more than three inches across. She thinks about sticking her arm out the hole but is afraid what the mobster might do to her limb.

Before she can think of what to do next a shadow falls behind the large hole and something is pushed through. To her horror, it is a large grey rat, squealing as it falls to the bottom of the crate. Marylee screams and pushes herself to the other side of the box. Then another rat falls through the hole, and then another. She screams more and the mobster laugh and walk away. One chuckles, "What? The rat doesn't like other rats?"

In the crate the rats climb over each other in one corner while Marylee holds her legs up to her chest. The scene from the book "1984" flutters through her mind of the man whose head is forced into cage with hungry rats. Repositioning herself her hand touches her purse and she pulls it up to cover her face. As her breathing slows slightly, she suddenly smells chocolate. Then she remembers the candy bar she bought from a street vendor earlier that day. She frantically opens her purse.

The rats are still squeaking. They are hungry but afraid of the thrashing human across from them. Then to their surprise, a delicious sugary chunk lands in front of them. The human did not attack them, it gave them a gift. The rats cautiously begin gnawing on the candy bar.

Watching the rats eat something that is not her, gives the woman a chance to catch her breath. Marylee had only thrown the rodents half of the candy bar, thinking for some reason she needed to ration her only bribery asset. She begins to pray and hope and believe that the FCPD are seconds away from raiding the warehouse and freeing her. But as the minutes turn into an hour and her rescuers never appear.

Although the food is gone, the rats stay on their side of the crate. Marylee's mind searches for anything to give her hope. She thinks of Tammy, her family's brown and white collie she grew up with. She wishes the dog was with her now to defend her from the rats. The more she thinks of Tammy she remembers how she taught Tammy to shake. With the word "shake" Tammy would raise her paw and she would gently shake the dog's paw. With that, a crazy idea pops into Marylee's head: could she train these rats to leave her alone, or better yet, help her escape?

She starts with teaching them Good and Bad. She would say "good" in a pleasing voice and maybe toss them a tiny crumb from the remaining candy bar. "Bad" would come with a growly voice and a threatening motion. She taught them many more commands. She trained them to move from one area in the crate to another. Then she taught them to fetch her small nail file from her purse. After they all mastered this proficiently, she set them upon their task.

Cringingly, she lifted each rat up and out the hole they were thrust in hours ago. After few minutes one rat returned with a nail. Marylee was happy with the result, but simply said "more" to the rodent. Another rat brought back a penny, then a metal washer, and then a hair pin. After an hour her crate had quite an assortment of metal bits, but nothing she felt would help her escape. After a while she heard a tool of some sort drop next to her crate. Then the sound of a rat climbing the outside of the crate, then the tool dropping, then climbing again, and dropping again. Realizing they needed help, she stuck her slender arm out the larger hole and down as far as she could. Soon she felt the handle of a tool, which she eagerly grabbed, and pulled it in with her. It was a hand chisel. She knew it was the best she could wish for.

At first Marylee worked the chisel around the top, but she realized it was too tight, so she started working on the wood slats of the crate wall. Within a few minutes she had a slat free from its end slat, then free from the other end slat, and then finally free from the center slat. When she had a whole board off and in her hand and she finally had feeling of hope. She looked at the four-inch-wide opening in her prison to see the three heads of her trained rats looking at her. After prying three more slats off, she had enough room to squeeze out of the box.

Marylee started to tiptoe toward the nearest door. She kept her head spinning to see trouble before it saw her and she noticed her three rodent pupils following her. At the door she heard voices, so she snuck to another door. There she heard street traffic on the outside. Looking down she saw her three rats. So she grabbed a burlap sack off the floor and commanded them to enter it. With her bag of rats under her arm she burst through the door and ran.

There were only a few cars out on the dark street. She saw a man begin running toward her from the warehouse so she ran in the opposite direction. She ran half a block until she saw a yellow taxi and hailed it down. "Funk City Police station, please, as fast as you can!"

Her head went back over the top of her seat and she thanked her lucky stars. She began thinking of Lt. DeWolf and what an jerk he is. And how they should have known her mic was found and that she was in trouble. So where were they? Then she realized the police just did not care about her, and that they would probably be mad at her for not getting them any evidence on Diamond Fist. She knew she was heading in the wrong direction. At the next stop light Marylee bolted out of the taxi with the cabbie yelling, "Hey, lady, what are you doing?"

Reading the street signs she learned she was in Camden, a southern borough of Funk City. Her apartment was uptown, but she knew she could not go there so she started walking toward midtown where one or two friends of hers lived. Dawn was breaking when she reached the apartment of her friend, Selina.

Selina took her in and had a dozen questions. But what shocked Marylee is when she flung back her long dark hair and Selina gasped, "Oh my god, what happened to your face?" Panicking, Marylee ran to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Her left cheek was bruised with a two-inch slit full of dried blood. She set down her bag of rats and tried to wash her face, but it was too painful. Selina told her she would be leaving soon and that her harrowed friend could "crash" in her bed or the couch or wherever. Marylee sat on the couch and stretched her legs. Just before Selina left she asked, "What's in the bag?"

"Just some friends," the distressed damsel answered. Later she would get some lunch meat from the fridge for her rats and get a few hours of sleep. Waking up in the afternoon, Marylee would borrow some street clothes from Selina, then take a cab uptown, sneak into her own apartment. Her rats sniffed and searched around her apartment but she told them, "Don't get comfortable. I'm moving." Knowing she could not carry them all, she would sack up her shoes and clothes and hide them in a basement storage room and come back for them another day. She took her jewelry and money and found a small apartment in Blythe, where the Italian mob had little influence. She dyed her hair black and used the name Julie Kitt. And the scar on her cheek adds to her disguise. She got a waitress job to pay her rent but she had bolder ambitions. She was going to start stealing from the mob.

Her first job was simple, stealing a Cadillac from one of Diamond Fist's many garages. She knew where the garages were and it was easy for her to train her rats to sneak into the garage office and take the keys. She then got a quarter of the Cadi's value from an chopshop in Greenfield but it was an easy score.

And "Julie" did not forget the other target of her revenge: Lt DeWolf and the FCPD. While fencing stolen goods in Blythe she befriended Mason Smith, a former clockmaker turned tinkerer of devious gadgets. Mason built a simple bomb for her which she had her rats place underneath Lt DeWolf's car. Julie witnessed the explosion from a distance. She watched the fire department take extra precautions to put out the car fire for fear there might be another bomb. And she saw paramedics treat bystanders injured by shrapnel and debris. This shamed her as she told herself, "I can't do this. I'm not a killer." DeWolf would survive but he ramped up his personal protection believing the underworld ordered a hit on him. So Julie changed her methods and used her skills to harass Lt. DeWolf instead. Pranks like having her rats steal his wallet, then take it to a XXX theater in the Bulge and have the manager call the FCPD and say it was left there.

With Mason Smith's help Julie would make her Ratwoman costume and build her reputation as a premiere thief. She would steal from many mobsters of Funk City, but she would not ignore an easy heist from a wealthy "civilian" if the opportunity presented itself. Despite being chased by the mob, the FCPD, and Capt Junk and Trash she never felt cornered. She always planned exit strategies for every situation. Something she learned that night in the crate Diamond Fist nailed her into.

Many trained rats would come and go over the years. At first they had names based on their appearance, like "Brownie" or "Greyboy" or "Stubbie" with his short tail. Later Ratwoman's names for them would be more elaborate based on their specialized skills. "Pockets" who was great at picking pockets. "Slippery" who could squeeze under any doorway. "Marconi" who did an excellent job of staying quiet with a tiny microphone trapped to his back. If any of them met their demise in the line of duty, then the rat would get a funeral with full honors: shoebox burial in her backyard.

Back in her brownstone basement Julie sits up and comes back from her daydream. One of her rats is looking at her puzzled, she ignores him and walks up stairs and she thinks about a date she has coming up in Kingston. A big dinner party with lots of wealthy Funk City socialites. She is not going to scope out the mansion, to make it a mark, she will just be gathering information on any mob-tied elitists there. Julie gets to the top of the stairs and walks out the front door.

The newspaper has arrived and there is a front page story about Capt Junk and Trash and their occasional partner Trashy Girl stopping a bank heist by some carnival freaks. She stares at the photo of Trashy Girl and thinks to herself, "I could never get the goody-two-shoes duo to come over to my side, but this girl ... maybe." Julie looks up, waives to a neighbor, then turns and walks back inside. Her front door slowly closes.



Email me your comments or questions