Door was just a tiny tot clinging to Lord Portico's trouser leg when news of the Americans’ moon landing reached London Below. She remembered the messenger--a sly cat of a man in a great coat--who knocked on the front door and offered to trade a bit of news for a favor...ever so small a favor for an ever so important piece of news.
Lord Portico sighed in exasperation but gestured for the messenger to get on with it already.
"Word from New York Below, milord," the messenger said, sweeping his coat back in an elaborate bow. His eyes weren't looking at his feet the way most peoples' did when they bowed to her father. No, they cut over to where Door was half-hiding behind her father's legs and studied her as if she were a curiosity. It was the same sort of look she would give to a particularly bright and unusually patterned beetle if she happened to come across it in the garden. When he noticed her returning his gaze, the messenger smiled wide and white. Straightening, he continued as if their moment on knee-level had never occurred. "It seems the Americans' space program has succeeded. Tonight, a man will tread upon the surface of the moon."
Door's trips to London Above had been so far infrequent and always in the company of her father, but they had all been nighttime excursions. She remembered the moon, big and bright like a silver coin suspended overhead. Lord Portico had reached up and seemed to pluck it from the sky and then drop it casually into her cupped hand as if a man plucking down the moon were something that happened every night. For a moment, all the silvery white light of the moon glowed from inside her fist. Then, she looked up at the place where the moon had been, and there it was again. Looking down at her hand, she discovered that she held not the moon but a shiny halfpenny. How wonderful was her father's magic that he could call down the moon and turn it into a coin?
"They are broadcasting it on all the networks," the messenger continued.
"Papa, let's go see," Door pleaded, tugging on the leg of her father's trousers. There was no television in London Below. Not in those days. No pockets of time had yet been trapped with errant broadcast signals for the telly to pick up.
Lord Portico's brow wrinkled in thought, and he waved absently at the messenger, a clear dismissal. The man in the coat bowed again--a little lower this time--and departed with a swish. "All right," he said after the door was firmly shut behind their unexpected visitor, "But you are to hold my hand."
The trip from London Below to London Above was quick, and Door even got to climb up a ladder to a manhole, her father right behind her to catch her in case her hands slipped on the slimy rungs. The street they climbed up to was on the edge of the city, small two-story shops lining either side. They strolled for a moment, her small hand in her father's much larger one as she had promised, gazing into darkened shop windows.
Down on the corner was an appliance shop, and the window held a display of tellies, left on. They were tuned to different channels, but all were showing the same blurry black and white images. Lord Portico picked her up, balancing her on his hip so that she would be on the same level as the display even though she was technically too big to be carried like a baby.
Together, they watched as a man climbed down from a ship that had journeyed hundreds of miles across space and stepped out onto the surface of a world as strange and alien as London Above was to her. And up above them, the moon shone down, big and bright.