In addition to being the most uncomfortable means of transportation ever invented as well as the most likely to induce motion sickness, there was a good chance it was also the loudest, human propelled vehicle to ever clamber along the face of the earth. So varied and numerous were the sources of the sound of metal clanging, scraping, sliding and banging against other metal surfaces, a blind person might have imagined an ark full of animals all simultaneously running their claws along a slate chalkboard when it approached.
It was a specially rigged railroad handcar the size of a standard box freight car. It ran on six steel wheelsets on two trucks placed at either end. The floor was a deck that was mounted on top of a sub-deck directly over the axles and rigging. The sub-deck held a swivel hinge plate on which the main floor of the car was mounted. This swivel-hinge allowed the whole upper deck to spin around the gear apparatus in the center, giving the platform above free range to turn like a carousel.
Instead of the a standard pump handle at the center, a full size teeter totter was mounted there in its place.
The “drivers” of the car sat at either end of the teeter totter where bucket seats were perched. The fulcrum across which the drivers tottered was also mounted on a swivel. So the drivers could spin around and change positions without dismounting. The deck itself swiveled independently and it could be turned and locked into place perpendicular to the tracks and the totter, in order to better accommodate both the tottering and the passengers and cargo. Indeed, this arrangement allowed the drivers to push the car even faster as they dropped all the way to the lower deck for momentum before pushing off again with each pump.
She hated traveling this way, she thought. But it was so much faster than hiking and that was the only other way. She sighed and closed her eyes. Tried to give in to the trance like state that waited fro her somewhere in the tottering. She was in her least favorite position, back to the forward motion, deck sticking out sideways accentuating the tall grass swaying back under it. Her hair was blowing forward around her face as she moved backward and the noise was deafening.
She went over the message again in her head, imagining its telling. The sounds, the expressions, the touches, the smell of it. She tried to listen only to this rehearsal and the rhythm of her own feet pushing up as she came down again and again and again. Each pump of her body closer to where she was going.