The story of the Ratman has some variants but the core result remains the same.
That under a tunnel, sitting just near the residence of the Mayor, there looms a figure that resembles both a rat and a human being.
It will screech in the middle of the night and attempt to chase out people walking through there at night.
One version of the story tells of a local tramp and headcase. Who lived in the tunnel, being paralysed and unable to leave.
One night a group of drunken teenagers beat him to death and stole what little food and clothes he had. As he was freezing to death he could see rats scuttle forth to consume him. He swore revenge on the town that had abused him, and is now the Ratman of Southend, a vengeful spirit that hates the young and healthy.
The other version claims that the Ratman was the deformed son of an old Mayor of Southend. He was born hideously deformed, with a rodent-like snout, jagged teeth and a rotting stench about him.
The Mayor had the tunnel constructed to hide his secret, as the child was also the result of an adulterous relationship.
The Ratman still lurks there to this day, alone in the dark and waiting for any tasty humans to cross its path.
The story emerged years ago and reappears from time to time, via bizzare signs posted on lamp-posts and telephone poles.
The story of the Ratman being the Mayors deformed son, shares some thematic similarities with the mythical tale of the Minotaur.
I have personally heard screeching in that tunnel and momentarily thought it was the Ratman.
Ratman (In incredibly whiney and 'desperate for attention' tone) - I once went to a youth club...
(Dead Silence in the confusion of what has just transpired)
The conversation has just been Ratman'd