The Paradox

"I'm sorry" was the last thing I heard before it happened. I was sitting in the passenger seat, turned in my seat to watch him as he remained focused on traffic. We always drove like this, him staring intently straight ahead and me staring at him. It was an early afternoon and we were stuck on the bridge waiting for traffic out of the city to clear up. The plan was to head upstate to spend the weekend with his parents but we never made it.

He whispered "I'm sorry" and then it happened. I am sorry for using such a vague description, saying "accident" does not cover the magnitude of the event and also implies a randomness that is not true in this case. This was the direct result of an action.

When the emergency responders came and dug me out they told me that a semi truck had been flung lengthwise at our car. It hit us at over 100 miles per hour and the force of the impact caused a number of vehicles, including ours, to roll. We landed upside-down with two other cars landed on top of us. The whole thing took twelve seconds.

My husband died because he had taken his seat belt off. He always did whenever we were stuck in traffic so he could stretch. I used to casually remind him of the dangers but he always laughed it off and so I stopped. I think that is why his last words were an apology, at least, I am not sure what else he might have meant.

I never saw his body and for that I am thankful. I was told I should be by the cop who was interviewing me as I sat on a stretcher, basically unharmed, trying to piece together what had just happened. The cop said his body was torn apart by glass and flying metal. That had they not found his wallet in his pocket they might have had a hard time identifying him.

When I asked the cop why this had happened at all he got a solemn look on his face and his eyes hit the pavement. I asked him again and grabbed his arm before he said, in a low voice to hide his shame, "Unstoppable Force". Her.

She appeared over a year ago, showing up to stop bank robberies and car chases. She was violent, the wanted criminals she left tied up outside the police station were always beaten to within an inch of their lives, but the cops turned a blind eye because she got results. As time had gone on she got more reckless; collateral damage becoming more of an occurrence until the day she punched that semi so hard it flew backwards and killed my husband.

It is surprisingly hard to file a wrongful death claim against a superhero. Every attorney in the city laughed me out of their office when I suggested the idea.

"How are you going to file a lawsuit if you do not know her secret identity?" they asked while laughing.

"How do you expect a process server to serve papers? Hold up a liquor store first?" they joked.

I had a reporter from the daily paper who was interested in writing my story, many had started to question if Unstoppable Force had gone too far this time now that civilian lives were being lost, but he stopped returning my calls after she saved a bus full of children from careening off a mountain road. She was back in the city's good graces and free to keep gallivanting around as though she did not have my husband's blood on her hands.

Running out of options, I put word on the street that there would be a hefty bounty to anyone who could put Unstoppable Force out of business. She had been more an annoyance to the crime families, sticking mostly to small-time crooks, but surely they were afraid she might want bigger game to hunt.

A black town car picked me up and drove me to a warehouse on the edge of the city where I met Johnny Luciano, head of the Luciano Family. He knew that my offer was bunk, that I had no money, but he saw the drive in my eyes. My need for revenge.

He told me that we had a shared interest in bringing down Unstoppable Force and gave me the number of his man. The Luciano Family was known for sponsoring some of the biggest prizefighters in the world and he hooked me up with Joe Mingus, the best boxing trainer alive.

Mingus and I studied cellphone footage of Unstoppable Force's altercations and determined the best way to surprise her would be to get under her skin. She had a short fuse and would fly off the handle any time she had to struggle. She had been hurt during fights before, but only when her opponents dodged her massive strikes. It only ever worked once.

So we figured that raw strength was not our angle. Instead, being able to take one of her punches would catch her off guard and give an opportunity. We trained until my skin was as hard as stone. It took a lot of work to overcome my reflexes and not flinch any time a fist was headed for my face but after seven months of training I could take any hit without blinking.

And then one night Mingus told me I was ready. I put on the costume I had made for myself. Luciano's boys would make a big show of holding up a bank truck and signal me once she showed. I sat in the dark of my apartment and waited. The phone rang; it was time. I opened the door and headed to the car.