Three years ago when I was a sophomore in high school, I attended a local Chinese school. One day, we were given a choice to stay in class or to attend a "show". Most of the people who chose to leave were guys, so I naturally got up and went. We all piled onto a big bus and it took us out of Shanghai a bit into the neighboring city's sports stadium. I was thinking we were going to watch a football match or something.

We all took seats. I didn't get front row, at the time I was mildly annoyed, but that turned out to be a good thing later. The other kids were all my age, 16 or so, no little 'uns. It wasn't a big crowd, and they weren't loud. It was a very subdued bunch of people. Then all these big army trucks piled in on the lush grass of the stadium. The soldiers were all dressed up. The last truck had a bunch of sorry looking fellows dressed in prison garb, each restrained by a guard. I started wishing I stayed in class.

They all got off the truck. The prisoners were oddly complacent. I think they were drugged to make their last hour easier on them. They stood there in a row, heads bowed. The press corp arrived, taking photos. Their crimes were announced. Murder, rape, drug trafficking, the whole deal. I didn't really feel sorry for the criminals, now that I know what they did to deserve this. Detached, I watched the proceedings. However, I was close enough to see the fear on a couple of their faces.

After the press was done with taking their photos of the condemned, they were taken out a bit. One by one, they were forced out to kneel down on their knees, their handcuffs still on. The executioner then loaded his gun, stood about a meter or two from the prisoner, then put the bullet squarely in the back of head. One bullet. The prisoner dropped like a sack. They then removed the body to a waiting truck. Then the next. And the next. By the end, the flatbed truck was half-filled with corpses. There were no cheers from the crowd. We all sat stone-faced, all detached, watching the executions. There was a short speech on living morally afterwards, about killing the chicken to scare the monkey, but nobody listened.

We piled back in the bus and got back to school. How did I feel? Not shocked. I wasn't disgusted either. I was in a strange emotional limbo. On one hand, the executions were eerily clean, with no screams, no blood, no nothing. On the other, it was death. People died. And yet, I felt nothing. It was strange.