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Blood vessels 2618311b

It Shows.

"I just wish people could see it, you know? Every day he sees people on the bus, or at work, old friends or colleagues or all that and they don't even know what he did. I just wish it showed on his face."

The Venereal is the Fear of shame, blood, and sex. Unlike the majority of the Fears, it is widely known accross the globe as Variola carnalis, an epidermal rash-forming virus of the pox family. Unlike the rest of the varieties of pox, Variola carnalis is spread exclusively through sexual contact. 

The main symptom of the disease manifests about a month after initial contraction, and takes the form of body-wide rashes and contusions shaped like varicose veins covering the skin, especially of the face, neck, and hands. Variola carnalis is non lethal and does not progress further than this stage, but the extent of the contusions make them impossible to hide or remove. There is no vaccine and autoimmune responses seem to routinely fall short, with contraction rates difficult to estimate but alarmingly high. To the confusion of medical science at large, some carriers of Variola carnalis never develop the signature contusions of the disease, with its presence being detectable only in blood tests. 

To those who know the nature of the virus as a Fear, the mechanics are understood. The red contusions are developped only in those who, at the time of contraction, were breaking either a marital bond or a bond of trust with another partner. The red veins are colloquially called "cheater's stamp" and the bearers of them routinely shunned and harrassed, sometimes violently. Those who contract the virus without breaking a commitment to do so merely become carriers, passing it on to others who develop the varicose brands. Within the space of a few decades, Variola carnalis is expected to infect a significant amount of the American population.

The Fear itself does nothing else. With the understanding of what the contusions mean, understanding that is already propagating through the wider community as urban legend, people do the rest. Hate crimes targeting people with Variola carnalis are common, sometimes going so far as lethality, and are expected to increase in the future as both the disease and it's reputation as the "cheater's mark" spread. 

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