Winston 113: The boots were approaching again…

The boots were approaching again. The door opened. O’Brien came in.

Winston started to his feet. The shock of  the  sight  had  driven  all caution out of him. For the first time in many years he forgot the  presence of the telescreen.

‘They’ve got you too!’ he cried.

‘They  got  me a long time ago,’ said O’Brien with a mild, almost regretful irony. He stepped aside. from behind him there  emerged a  broad−chested guard with a long  black  truncheon  in  his hand.

‘You  know  him,  Winston,’  said  O’Brien. ‘Don’t deceive  yourself. You did know it you have always known it.’

Yes, he saw now, he had always known it. But there was  no  time to  think of that. All he had eyes for was the truncheon in  the  guard’s  hand. It might fall anywhere; on the crown, on the  tip of the ear, on  the upper arm, on the elbow−

The elbow! He had slumped to his knees, almost  paralysed,  clasping the stricken elbow with his other hand. Everything had  exploded  into  yellow light. Inconceivable, inconceivable that  one  blow could cause such pain! The light cleared and he could see  the other two looking down at him. The guard was laughing at his contortions. One question at any rate was answered. Never, for any reason on earth, could you wish for an increase  of pain. Of pain  you could wish only one thing: that it  should  stop.  Nothing in the  world was so bad as physical pain. In the  face of pain there are no  heroes, no heroes,  he  thought  over  and over as he writhed on the  floor, clutching uselessly at his disabled left arm.

X X X

He was lying on something that felt like a camp bed, except that it was higher off the ground and that he was fixed down in some way so that he could not move. Light that seemed  stronger than  usual  was  falling  on  his face. O’Brien was standing at his side, looking down at him intently. At the other side of him stood a man in a white coat, holding a hypodermic syringe.

Even after his eyes were open he took in his surroundings only gradually. He had the impression of wimming up into this room from some quite different world, a sort of underwater  world far beneath it. How long he had been down there he did not know.  Since the moment when they arrested him he had not seen darkness or daylight. Besides, his memories were  not continuous. There had been times  when consciousness, even the sort of consciousness that one has in sleep, had  stopped dead and started again after a blank interval.

But whether the  intervals were of days or weeks or only  seconds, there  was  no way of knowing.

With that first blow on the elbow the nightmare had started. Later he was to realize that all  that then happened was merely a preliminary, a routine interrogation to which nearly all  prisoners were subjected. There was a long range of crimes espionage, sabotage, and the  like to which everyone had to confess as a matter of course.  The confession was a formality,  though the torture was real. How many times he had been beaten, how long the beatings had continued, he could not remember. Always there were five or six men in black uniforms at him  simultaneously. Sometimes it was fists, sometimes it was truncheons, sometimes it was steel rods, sometimes it was boots. There were times when he rolled about the floor, as shameless  as an animal, writhing his body this way and that in an endless, hopeless effort to dodge the kicks, and simply inviting more and  yet more kicks, in his ribs, in  his belly, on his elbows, on his shins, in his groin, in his testicles, on the bone at the base of his spine. There were times  when it went on and on until the cruel, wicked, unforgivable thing seemed to him not that the  guards continued to beat him but that he could not force himself into losing consciousness.  There were times when his nerve so forsook him that he began shouting

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