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During the frigid winters between 1918 and 1921, 14 cases of a freak mental disorder were documented in the provincial Algonquin lands of Northern Maine and southeastern Quebec. The condition, dubbed “Chióni Psychosis”, affected young adult males almost exclusively and was characterized by a powerful and inexorable fear of the snow. The onset was always sudden, and affected individuals would experience symptoms including visual and auditory hallucinations, insomnia, night terrors, nearly insatiable hunger, and acute hydrophobia, among others. The strangest symptom though, the one that was present in all 14 cases, was an unshakable delusion that the snow outside housed malevolent spirits and entities. The episodes would only last three to seven weeks at a time, and the ill would usually report losing all memory of psychosis within a few short days.

The last known case of Chióni Psychosis befell Paul Cordero, a nineteen-year-old male living in the border town of Fort Kent, Maine in January of 1921. Cordero lived with his parents at the time, and according to testimonies from those close to him, had never previously shown any signs of mental instability before his episode. A doctor was brought in, and it was recorded that Paul displayed an extreme aversion to daylight, drinking water, and being in any room containing windows. The doctor had advised the Cordero’s to simply care for Paul until his symptoms lifted. But on the night of January 9, 1921, Lamont and Janie Sawyer, the Cordero’s nearest neighbors, were woken up when a frostbitten and inconsolable Mary Cordero banged on their front door after running half a mile through the blizzard to their front porch.

Upon grabbing his rifle and investigating the Cordero’s home, Lamont found a catatonic Paul in the master bedroom, hunched over his father’s freshly murdered corpse, sawing hunks of flesh off of the midsection and consuming them raw. The bedroom window was wide open. As Paul stood and turned, a fear-ravaged Lamont Sawyer immediately shot and killed him.

Zero cases of chióni psychosis have been documented since Paul Cordero’s death, but many residents of Northern Maine and southeastern Quebec to this day continue to live in fear that one day a fifteenth case will appear.

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