‘In your case,’ said O’Brien to Winston; ‘the worst thing in the world happens to be rats.’
A sort of premonitory tremor, a fear passed through Winston as caught his first glimpse of the cage. The meaning of the mask-like attachment in front of it suddenly sank into him.
His bowels seemed to turn to water.
‘You can’t do that!’ he cried out in a high cracked voice. ‘You couldn’t, you couldn’t! It’s impossible.’
‘Do you remember,’ said O’Brien, ‘the moment of panic that used to occur in your dreams? There was a wall of blackness in front of you, and a roaring sound in your ears… You knew …what it was… It was the rats that were on the other side of the wall.’
‘O’Brien!’ said Winston, making an effort to control his voice. ‘You know this is not necessary. What is it that you want me to do?’
O’Brien did not answer. He spoke in the schoolmasterish manner that he sometimes affected. He looked into the distance, as though he were addressing an audience.