Ian and Barbara Chesterton sit up all night and watch the fuzzy footage of the moon landing on an ordinary black-and-white television, in their ordinary living room, in their ordinary house, just like millions of others, and feel uniquely privileged.
They’ve seen things that no-one else has seen, will see, or could imagine. But then they were always visitors, outsiders, footprints in a time that they were never born to tread.
Now, for the first time since their return, they are living through this in the daily course of their lives, just as others are, part of this world.
They live through history every day in this regular day-after-day life, of course. It’s the mundane, everyday history so easily forgotten in favour of the important decisions of leaders; the history that Barbara so delighted in discovering.
But to them it’s not history; it’s the present, as the Doctor frequently reminded them. It’s real and it’s relevant; it’s happening right now and their actions could change this history happening to them. An infinity of choices; free will is not an illusion, after all.
Their best efforts couldn’t have stopped this; couldn’t have changed the outcome. This is history even as it happens. Like Robespierre’s downfall and Nero’s burning of Rome, this event will have a place in the history books of the future.
They have a brief dispute over whether a historic event that knows perfectly well it’s a historic event is pretentious and whether this first step onto an alien surface might be forgotten relatively quickly; the significance overshadowed by the time when space travel will be commonplace.
“That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.”
He’s not the first human to step out onto an alien landscape (Barbara exclaims, “Look, look there!” claiming she caught a glimpse of a police box), but he is the first human to travel there due to the work of humans.
It’s a giant leap into the future, according to some people.
They see it as the first small step on the path leading to Vicki and her widowed father leaving a rebuilt Earth in 2493; to the First Great and Bountiful Human Empire; to Carol, John and Maitland leaving a stripped Earth in the twenty-eighth century to search for new resources.
Progress isn’t always a good thing, but nevertheless they progress. Achievement by achievement; day by day; step by step.
Suddenly, Susan, Vicki and the Doctor seem close enough to touch; so many short steps away. They laugh with sudden dizzy joy at their sense of belonging in this time, this place, and cling to each other as anchors.
Ian and Barbara Chesterton sit up all night and watch the fuzzy footage of the moon landing on an ordinary black-and-white television, in their ordinary living room, in their ordinary house, just like millions of others, and they can feel history rushing all around them, sweeping them along in this linear life.
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