Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

Damn them. They make you envious, make you hate yourself, your life, every breathing minute of your existence. I hated them, but it got me thinking.
How pretty is too pretty? There has to be a threshold. Under it, you’re plain or acceptably good looking. Over it, you’re a walking insult.
Insult to what?
That’s where it all opened up to me. Being pretty isn’t just about genetics – okay, they help. But the truly enraging pretty things work hard at their annoying lives. Self-indulgence, self-denial, discipline, they have it all. Even the ones without wealth are easy to spot. They work all the time to look good. Not to live. No. They just exist to make others feel bad about themselves. No purpose beyond being things for the less fortunate to aspire to.
I’ve always been good at mathematics, and my programming skills are adequate. So I sat down and wrote myself a program. Tried to make a name that would be an acronym of ‘pretty’, but gave up. Named it DEADPRETTY – and that’s when the big plan started.
A world without pretty people. Just average types getting by as we always do.
That fired me up. I spent eight years taking DEADPRETTY from basic media scanning to full profiling with illegal privileged access. For that, I got a job with the government infotech division. Read-only access with no data withdrawal was easy to arrange and conceal. I also upgraded a few things. Got promoted a couple of times. But the pretty people still grated on me.
The transfer to Janus Habitat got me where I wanted: an environment where I could stage a controlled test. Then came my first real problem: how to kill lots of people effectively?
That took me a while. In the end, I went for a two-stage process: the first makes all the people available for killing. The second sorts the pretty from those who will survive.

DEADPRETTY is my opus. It reviews a person from birth to now, evaluating every little thing they have, did, or do. After that, it calculates how pretty they are. That stumped me for a while, but in the end, a percentage was easiest: one hundred percent being the perfect pretty thing who has everything, is physically flawless, and possesses a mind able to perpetuate the crime of their existence. Most people fall in the forty to sixty percent range. For this test, I set the threshold to seventy-five.
At midnight I set the program to execute. It took complete control of the habitat in less than ten minutes. Within an hour, everybody except me was unconscious.

The assessment phase is taking longer than expected. I only have a nineteen-hour window before the next ship docks. Which is why I’m doing this, of course: to make this viable. Reprogramming the evaluation criteria is fiddly, but the predicted completion time falls to under eighteen hours.

Damn them. They even look pretty when dead! Arrayed in their gaudy clothes across the walkways and parks of Janus Habitat, their colours picked out by the intensity of the night lighting. From my drone view, they look like jewellery scattered across the ground. Beautifully irritating.

A needle stabs into the back of my neck. No! How did I…? My fingers fumble across the control boards. As my head slams down on the console, I see my life laid out on the screens. Someone’s comment is highlighted: ‘a workaholic who seems to hate everything about himself’.

Damn the pretty things. Damn them all. I never allowed for them being infectious.